The descent into barbarism continues unabated while our politicians of all stripes conspire to deny all of us our basic human rights. These are crimes perpetrated by the British State that cry out to Heaven for vengeance.
“An attack on One is an Attack on ALL”
~ Black Triangle Campaign
A baby boy starved to death in Westminster as his seriously ill and “socially isolated” mother struggled to obtain proper housing, benefits and support, a serious case review into his death has revealed.
An inquest returned a verdict of accidental death, noting that the baby, known as Child EG, died after his mother developed a rare brain infection, rendering her unconscious, so unable to feed her child. She died two days after her son.
However, the full serious case review highlights a number of failings that contributed to the family’s vulnerability in the months before the tragedy.
The child’s mother found it difficult to obtain benefits after her asylum application was approved and she found herself caught between two separate support systems, the review notes. “There were significant problems in the transition from National Asylum Support Service (Nass) to mainstream benefits.”
The family had become “destitute” because of the withdrawal of the service’s support, a critical letter from the chair of Westminster’s independent local safeguarding children’s board notes, and were being given cash handouts by healthcare workers and social services “to tide them over”.
The safeguarding children board’s recommendations were released this week to Inside Housing magazine.
Although it was his mother’s illness which was the direct cause of Child EG’s death, the review points to weaknesses in the support system for asylum seekers whose applications are granted, which can mean they wait weeks before they are transferred to a new benefits system.
These changes meant that both in Westminster, and in the family’s previous home, in the Midlands “the family became dependent upon ad hoc payments by local agencies, which must have added to Mrs G’s anxiety and, in consequence, to her difficulty in managing her children and their collective health needs”. A requirement for her to “become homeless before the local authority or Benefits Agency could assist her left Mrs G in an extremely uncertain position. Uncertainty about where one might be living next day would be worrying for anyone. For Mrs G and, in particular, FG [her three-year-old daughter] who was old enough to be aware of her mother’s anxiety, it must have been extremely difficult.”
The case prompted the independent Westminster local safeguarding children board to call for a better “joined up” system, to improve the transition “without households having to face the additional stress of uncertainty and insecurity”.
Because of chronic medical conditions, the family was receiving “significant levels of health and other support services”, the review notes.
Mrs G called an ambulance early 8 March 2010 to say that her son was having difficulty breathing. When the ambulance staff arrived, paramedics noted that the baby had been dead for some time. An initial postmortem found there was no food in the baby’s stomach or digestive tract. He was described as “seriously underweight and dehydrated”, which was noted as “clearly the immediate cause of death”
His mother was arrested on suspicion of neglect but also rushed to hospital where she was admitted to the high dependency unit and told doctors she had not eaten for two days. She died two days later.
James Thomas, director of family services at Westminster city council, said: “This was clearly a tragic case involving a family with complex health needs.
“We share the Westminster safeguarding children board’s concerns about the current transitional support available to successful asylum seekers before they are linked up to mainstream support services.”
Dave Garratt, the chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “The transition from Nass support to full state benefit entitlement funded by the Department for Work and Pensions continues to fail some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society. Unacceptable delays in these transition arrangements are all too common, resulting in homelessness and hunger.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010