SOCIAL WORKER TOOK THREE DAYS TO REPORT THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF BABY GSCC

A social worker appeared before a disciplinary hearing today charged with misconduct following the "suspicious" death of a baby.

Elizabeth De Souza-Oyewole took three days to pass on to bosses her note of a conversation with a police officer in which he told her of the death of a child known to social services, a hearing was told.

Mrs Oyewole, 50, was working a shift on Christmas Eve 2006 as part of an emergency duty team when the police officer rang her to tell her that the child's death was being treated as "suspicious", the General Social Care Council heard.

But it was not until December 27 that she referred her record of the conversation to bosses at Sutton Borough Council, the GSCC was told.

A note of her record of the conversation with the officer, who was part of child abuse investigation team, read to the hearing, said: "Death was being treated as suspicious, child was left in the care of the father and when mother returned home later in the day she was unwell, very floppy and then taken to hospital, where she later died."

David Campbell, solicitor for the GSCC, said a manager had "raised concern" about the lack of action taken by Mrs Oyewole when she referred the record on December 27.

He said Mrs Oyewole had expressed "contrition" in disciplinary hearings following the incident.

"She said she was angry with herself, she had no excuses, it is appalling...she accepted that she should have contacted senior managers and she readily accepted her failings and expressed contritition," he said.

The hearing was told Sutton Council, in south London, had concluded that Mrs Oyewole had not taken down the name of the hospital where the baby - whose age and name has not been revealed in the hearing - had died, nor the exact date of death.

No information was taken by Mrs Oyewole from the police officer about other members of the family and there was no information about whether other children were living in the same household as the child, the hearing was told.

Mrs Oyewole received a "final warning" as a result of the incident and did not return to work until March 2.

The hearing was told Sutton Council began disciplinary proceedings again after a second incident following her return to work on March 2 2007.

She has been accused of placing a 17-year-old resident in a care home at "potential" risk after she failed to start inquiries following a phone call from his mother alleging that a member of staff had "grabbed him by the throat".

Mrs Oyewole had advised the mother to make inquiries with the home first of all and to come back to social workers if she still had concerns, the hearing was told.

Emmanuel Edada, for Mrs Oyewole, said there were no other siblings in the case of the death of the baby and the police officer had made it clear that he was ringing her "merely" to provide her with information.

"The police officer has contacted Mrs Oyewole and he had made it clear that he was contacting her for the purposes of giving her information," he said.

"He made it clear that he was.. merely providing her with information, it clearly is known that there were no other children in the family concerned and there was in fact no other risk to any other family members."

Mrs Oyewole, giving evidence in her defence, said: "He had said this is just for your information, and he did not expect me to do anything."

Mr Edada said Mrs Oyewole had addressed the mother of the 17-year-old in terms of what she knew about the history of her previous behaviour.

"Mrs Oyewole was mindful of the previous history of the service user and his mother and considered that that complaint may be dealt with at this level.

"She had clearly turned her mind to resolving this issue in a step-by-step process. It was not that she took no action. Her actions were simply based on her knowledge and the knowledge she had gained from her colleagues regarding this particular service user."

Mrs Oyewole told the hearing that the teenage boy was a "very challenging young person" and he and his family were well-known to social workers.

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