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Baby with genetic condition was sent home from hospital without care plan


Children’s Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Children’s Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Children’s Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A 10-month-old baby in hospital since birth due to a neuro-genetic disease was sent home last autumn without discharge papers or a care plan in place.

Previously, the baby had been transferred temporarily to a hospital on the other side of the country from her parents, because of a lack of staff in the local hospital.

It is one of a number of cases highlighted in the 2021 report of the Ombudsman for Children (OCO), Dr Niall Muldoon.

The featured cases show how the State continues to let down children across services including education, health, disability, housing, child protection and direct provision.

The case of the baby is still being pursued by Dr Muldoon’s office and the hospital has provided a list of steps it is taking to deal with the issues raised by the family.

The OCO is also awaiting a further response from the hospital with additional details on how they are addressing the complaint.

Complaints to the OCO almost doubled (up 79pc) in 2021, mainly due to 900 Covid- related complaints such as mask-wearing in schools, vaccinations for children and school closures. Dr Muldoon said: “The impact of the past two years can be clearly seen in the issues being raised and I expect that there will be a knock-on effect for years to come.

“It is vital that we take the learnings from the pandemic to bring about change for children. An investment in children’s futures and commitment from Government is needed to ensure that we do not miss the opportunity to do things better.”

More than half (53pc) of the overall 2,126 complaints related to education, followed by health (17pc), family support, care and protection (12pc) and local authority (5pc). There were also complaints in areas including justice and social protection.

The OCO received 42 reports where there were child protection and welfare concerns: 18 of alleged sexual abuse; 13 of alleged physical abuse; seven of alleged neglect; and four of alleged emotional abuse.

There are case-by-case decisions on whether concerns need to be relayed to the child and family agency, Tusla, or whether it was already aware. In 14 cases, the OCO formally notified Tusla.

Arising from another case, Dr Muldoon has expressed “serious concern” about a gap in the State’s provision of mental health and psychological services to children who have experienced trauma related to possible abuse or neglect.

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“This is despite growing international recognition of the impact of trauma on health and well-being outcomes for children and into adulthood,” the report states.

Education is always the biggest complaint category, with bullying accounting for an average 10pc of the cases, including schools’ handling of bullying and lack of supports for pupils, both victim and ­perpetrator, in its aftermath.

One education-related complaint centred on a 12-year-old girl with dyslexia, who was refused a laptop to help with schoolwork when she was 10, with no explanation or information on how to appeal the decision. The special education needs organiser assigned to the case did not follow correct procedures, the OCO said.

Other complaints included the shared allocation of special needs assistants (SNA) support and how the level of allocation impacted on children with significant needs

Lack of provision for autism spectrum disorder places/units for children transitioning into post-primary schools was also a significant source of complaint.

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