There are currently seven reviews into how agencies handled deaths or cases of serious harm in Northamptonshire, with health bosses saying they are concerned that the financial problems of the county council are impacting on the authority’s abilities to do its duty.
The Local Democracy Reporting service has learned there are three Domestic Homicide Reviews in the Kettering area ongoing, plus two Safeguarding Adult Reviews and two more Serious Case Reviews into instances where a child was either killed or seriously harmed.
This comes after two high-profile Serious Case Reviews published earlier this summer into the murders of Kettering one-year-old Evelyn Rose Muggleton and Northampton two-year-old Dylan Tiffin-Brown, which found that agencies could have done more to prevent their deaths.
Few details of these other seven reviews have been made public but it is understood that some may be coming forward for publication soon.
Reviews take place in events where someone has died or been seriously harmed and where it is considered that the involvement of agencies involved should be probed. The outcome of the reviews is to give answers to the families and also for agencies such as the police, social services and health bodies to learn lessons from the way things may have been handled.
In a recent joint board report the Corby and Nene Clinical Commissioning group quality and safeguarding team said it has raised concerns with Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) about the way it is carrying out its duties in undertaking the reviews.
It says: “Within the health system there is continued concern from both children and adult providers regarding the impact of the cost saving schemes required to meet the financial challenges faced by NCC. In addition, concerns have been raised through NCC regarding the impact currently been seen in relation to safeguarding duties and statutory responsibilities, particularly related to the administration of DHR and SAR processes and administration.”
The CCG – which commissions health services across the county – says it is monitoring the situation ‘very closely’ and has compiled an issue log.
The report continues: “Whilst NCC are making great efforts to improve the offer for children and adults, recruitment remains a significant challenge and ultimately impacts on delivery.”
The county council’s children’s social services department has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted and is struggling to recruit permanent social workers in part because of its poor reputation and the impending move to unitary governance which will see the council disbanded.
Safeguarding Adult Reviews are carried out under the Care Act 2014 and are commissioned when an adult dies as a result of abuse or neglect and there is concern that partner agencies could have worked together more effectively to protect the deceased.
They are led by local Safeguarding Adult Boards. According to the CCG both reviews went to an extraordinary board on August 15 where a publication date should have been agreed.
Domestic homicide reviews look into deaths of people aged over 16 which appear to have resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by someone related, intimately involved with or who lived with the deceased.
Two of these reviews are understood to be concerning death by suicide. Kettering Council has confirmed that one is in the final stages of completion and the other is being prepared to be presented to the family.
Northamptonshire Children Safeguarding Partnership (NSCP)* have confirmed this week that a serious case review into the neglect of a child who was locked in a room and severely abused is being considered for publication.
The NSCP has also confirmed that one more serious case review into a Northamptonshire child’s death is in its early stages.
Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Northampton North Sally Keeble is concerned about the situation.
She said: ”It is absolutely desperate what is happening. Desperate in terms of what has actually happened in these cases and also in the way it is then being dealt with.”
A spokesperson from Northamptonshire County Council said: “Safeguarding Adults Boards have a statutory responsibility for considering and commissioning Safeguarding Adult Reviews (SARs). A Safeguarding Adults Review is a multi-agency process that considers whether or not serious harm experienced by an adult, or a group of adults at risk of abuse or neglect could have been prevented. It uses partners in Northamptonshire to improve its service and prevent abuse and neglect in the future.
“We take this process very seriously and alongside all of our partners on the Northamptonshire Adult Safeguarding Board, and regardless of our financial challenges, we continue to actively work to ensure that any reviews are progressed fairly, accurately and in a timely manner and we contribute fully throughout the process.”
*An earlier version said Northamptonshire police had confirmed the serious case review, this was confirmed by the Northamptonshire Children Safeguarding Partnership.