04/09/2003

Adopted baby death report critical of health care

A local health and social services trust has been heavily criticised over the death of a legally adopted Romanian boy.

The report examined the role played by Craigavon and Banbridge Community Health and Social Services Trust into the handling of the case of David and Samuel, twin boys brought to Northern Ireland from Romania for adoption.

The children who were privately fostered by a Portadown couple, pending their adoption, came to Northern Ireland in July 2000.

Responsibility for monitoring the private fostering arrangement and supporting the family lay with Craigavon and Banbridge Community Trust.

The infant died in Craigavon Area Hospital in October 2000 without a cause of death being established. Days later his twin, who was brought to the hospital, was found to have suffered a skull fracture. In a second post mortem the dead child was found to have suffered multiple fractures – injuries which were never fully explained.

Geoffrey Briggs, a former missionary and the twins' adoptive father, was convicted of grievous bodily harm and sentenced to two year in jail.

Commenting on the report the NIO Minister with responsibility for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Angela Smith said: “These young children, David and Samuel, were brought here to begin a new family life. It is distressing that what should have been a new beginning for them had such tragic consequences. I am determined to ensure that we learn the lessons and that all the recommendations contained in this report are fully implemented.”

Accepting the 39 recommendations made by the independent review team, the Minister said: “There is no doubt that there were substantial failings on the part of health and social services.”

Paul Martin, Chief Inspector, Social Services Inspectorate, has been directed to set up an implementation team of representatives from the Department, the Southern Health and Social Services Board, Craigavon and Banbridge Community Trust, the Craigavon Area Hospital Trust, other statutory bodies and key voluntary agencies.

(SP)

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