Four children died in state care since 09
FOUR children have died in state care in Northern Ireland over the past four years and there has also been at least one suspected suicide in the Western Trust’s Directorate of Women and Children, the Sentinel can reveal.
The Sentinel has learned that since the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) was established in April 2009 it has been notified of the “unexpected and tragic death of a ‘looked after child’ on four occasions by local Trusts.”
Three of the deaths occurred in 2010/11 and one occurred in 2011/12.
The paper asked the Western Trust how many of the four deaths of ‘looked after children’ occurred within the authority but a spokesperson said it could not provide a number as this could lead to a child or young person being identified.
Although the Western Trust refused to provide details of the deaths of children in its care over the last three years the Sentinel has ascertained that there was one suspected suicide in the Women and Children’s Directorate between April 2009 and March 2011.
However, the Sentinel is unable to state whether this death involved a young person or child in state care.
A spokesperson for the Western Trust stated: “The Western Trust, as a health and social care provider, has a duty of care to protect the identity of children and their families who need or use its services, especially those who are most vulnerable.
“With reference to the figures that state there were four unexpected and tragic deaths of ‘Looked After Children’ across Northern Ireland since 2009. The Trust will not confirm what, if any, of the four deaths occurred within the Western Trust area.
“Confirming this could potentially lead to a child or young person being identified which may lead to further distress caused to their family. Therefore, the Trust will not be providing such specific and individual information to the media on this occasion.”
Under the Children (NI) Order 1995 a ‘looked after child’ is classed as one “who is in the care of a Trust or who is provided with accommodation by a Trust.”
They may live in a residential home, school, foster placement or family placement with a relative or occasionally at home.
The Western Trust’s Women and Children’s Directorate where one suspected suicide was reported between 2009 and 2011 has “responsibility for services delivered to women and children.”
“In addition it also has responsibility for public health and sexual health services. The Directorate has three sub-directorates: Family Support; Healthcare; and Children’s Mental Health and Disability Services.”
Last year the Sentinel reported that seventy-five ‘serious adverse incidents’ - including twenty-one suspected suicides - were reported by the Western Trust to the HSCB between 2009 and 2011.
WHSCT staff also reported three serious incidents under the heading ‘serious assaults (including homicide and sexual assault) by a service user’ and on six occasions when incidents occurred deemed there had been ‘serious risk to a service user and/or staff member and/or member of the public.’
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