A family court judge has criticised the inaction of a social worker in the case of a mother who fabricated illnesses in her two children.
The youngsters in question were now nine and eight years old. They were taken into care after it emerged that the mentally ill mother regularly gave them unncessary medication and even confined them to wheelchairs. She invented symptoms and lied to professionals, subjecting the boy and girl to multiple unnecessary medical procedures, doctor’s visits and even hospital admissions.
In this, the father aided her by prioritising her needs over those of the children. He reportedly found it difficult to accept that the mother had lied on multiple occasions and harmed his son and daughter.
Concerns first came to light when the siblings stared nursery in 2012. Staff quickly referred the family to social workers.
In two recently published rulings on this complex case, Her Honour Judge Mayer highlighted the “alarming ineptitude” of a social worker involved in the case. The local authority, Barnet Council in North London, had not responded to the case in a decisive manner, she declared, and failed to properly intervene.
Doctors, teachers and other educational professionals had repeatedly urged intervention after they noticed discrepancies in the mother’s account of the children’s apparent illnesses, but the social worker still remained “inactive” and planned to close the case.
It was only when the boy eventually made specific allegations against the mother that decisive action was taken and the children were taken into care.
Judge Mayer declared:
“The local authority neglected this case and this family, and the social worker, who was allocated for six years, demonstrated alarming ineptitude in the face of clear and obvious concerns expressed by many over a long period. A number of opportunities to intervene and spare the children unnecessary medical intervention [were] missed.”
In a supplementary ruling she concluded:
“X and Y cannot be cared for by their parents. There are no safeguards which could be put in place, certainly not before the mother has been assessed to have successfully completed her therapy and the father has done some additional safeguarding work.”