Southend: Alcoholic's Baby Died Of Neglect

Southend council has promised to improve standards after details emerged of a baby who died when left in the care of his alcoholic mother.

The child, known as Baby Robert, was 34 days old when he died from neglect in Southend, following a string of errors by the agencies responsible for his care.

The mother, who was homeless and sleeping on a friend's sofa, had "consumed a large amount of alcohol the night before his death'', a report said.

The serious case review, published in 2010, also said agencies responsible for his care had "lost focus'' because of the large number of patients suffering domestic violence, alcohol, drug and mental health problems.

It said: "The high level of need made it even more difficult to identify the most vulnerable of these individuals, resulting in the mother's unborn child's needs being minimised.''

The mother had a history of drink and mental health issues and a number of criminal convictions.

The report added that agencies including primary care services, probation service and health visitors "failed to recognise the safeguarding needs of Baby Robert''.

Bosses at Southend Council vowed that lessons had been learned to avoid another tragedy.

It claimed the child protection workload had grown heavier as a result of the death of baby Peter Connelly, originally known as Baby P, which led to a rise in referrals.

Chris Doorly, chairman of the Southend local safeguarding children board (LSCB), said: "We are totally committed to the protection of vulnerable children and young people and work is ongoing to further improve communication between all organisations responsible for child protection in Southend.

"The serious case review into the Baby Robert case was not an end in itself, but a step on the way to ensuring that professionals responsible for the care of vulnerable children achieve the highest quality of practice, both individually and collectively.''

The report was not proactively made public at the time because of concerns for the family, the statement added.