Alliance Response to HSE Publication of Child Death Reports

Published date: 
17 Oct 2011

Press Statement By Senator Jillian van Turnhout

Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance

“The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the series of reports published
by the HSE late this afternoon, undertaken by the National Review Panel
for Serious Incidents and Child Deaths, which detail the circumstances
of child deaths and serious incidents involving children and young
people.  We also welcome the first Annual Report of the National Review
Panel, which provides an overview of the work carried out by the group
since its establishment in 2010.  The Alliance has long called for the
publication of such reports, so that key lessons can be learnt to help
prevent future child deaths.

“The reports list a series of failings that greatly trouble the
Alliance, including several breaches of Children First
Guidelines/Guidance, poor supervision practices in HSE Child and
Family Services in a number of cases and the lack of a standardised
method for assessing the needs of children and young people who come to
the attention of social services.  The reports also throw up the need
for specialist training for social workers to improve investigative
skills and assist them in engaging ‘hard to reach’ families, and the
development of additional protocols for children who abscond from care.

“Further, the Alliance echoes the National Review Panel’s
recommendation, also outlined in a recent report by the Irish
Association of Social Workers, that early intervention and preventative
services must be put in place, together with enhanced communication
between Child and Family Services and community groups to ensure
children and young people do not fall through the cracks in service

“It is a matter of concern that it has been reported that the National
Review Panel finds its workload  ‘virtually impossible’ to carry out,
owing to the number and breadth of inquiries it must investigate. 
Indeed, it has been reported that the panel has been asked to review 51
cases, among them 35 deaths, since being set up in March last year.  It
is absolutely crucial that the National Review Panel is adequately
resourced to ensure the timely and thorough investigation of these
cases.  Each childhood counts, and vigorous scrutiny of each case is
vital.  We will now take time to read the reports thoroughly, which will
inform our scrutiny of Government for Report Card 2012.

“We also maintain our position that a nominated Oireachtas Committee
should receive the reports in full, as part of a credible and
comprehensive system to protect and care for children at risk; the
Government needs to take its share of responsibility and allow for the
vigorous scrutiny within the Oireachtas of child protection system. 
Ultimately, Government needs to establish a system that is
child-centred, which learns lessons from tragedies that have occurred,
and works to provide vulnerable children with the best support and care

Senator Jillian van Turnhout
Chief Executive


For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director

Tel: 01 6629400

Mobile: 087 7702845


Notes to Editor:

  1. In March 2010, the Health Information and Quality Authority
    issued directions to the HSE to review all serious incidents including
    deaths in care and detention and a national review team was set up.
    Under new rules the HSE must notify HIQA of all deaths and serious
    incidents within 48 hours.
  2. The causes of death of the children and teenagers include drug
    overdose, suicide, car accidents and other causes; “serious incidents”
    include cases of attempted suicide and children running away from care.
  3. See the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) A Call for
    July 2011


Children's Rights Alliance