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Baby P - Why It Will Happen Again
posted: Tuesday November 11, 2008

Although the appalling death of Baby P is not strictly the kind of case that NHSBlog would normally comment on, it does serve as yet another tragic example of the way in which large public organisations are so prone to get it horribly wrong - time after time after time.

Without going deeply into the publicly available reports, both official and unofficial, of just what went wrong, it is quite clear that Haringey’s Children and Young People’s Service, along with other involved agencies (the local Primary Care Trust, local hospital, Specialist Child Health Service, police, schools etc.) and the individuals handling the case failed to adequately protect Baby P.

It is difficult to look at such gross organisational and individual failure to either recognise what was going on, or to act swiftly and firmly on the available evidence, without becoming emotional to the point of demanding that everyone involved should be held accountable and made an example of. Let's not go there.

The truth is however, that exacerbated by the very complexity of the interaction between the multiple agencies tasked with protecting baby P, and the cultures endemic within them, the system allowed baby P's death.

Between October 2006 and August 2007, a multitude of agencies and individuals were repeatedly confronted with situations and evidence that to any normally aware person should have prompted the most intense scrutiny of the home circumstances of Baby P. There can be no excuses. Professionals failed and a child died needlessly and in the most horrible circumstances.

Once again, political correctness triumphed over common sense.

But should we be surprised that this event occurred? Absolutely not. It will continue to happen.

NHSBlog (not specifically this article) is a small attempt to point out how organisational failure within the NHS militates against common sense. There is no reason to believe that other publically-funded and largely unaccountable organisations are better equipped to deal with the problems with which they are tasked.

Until common sense is valued by government and the public organisations we all fund, things will not improve.

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Baby P was the victim of a culture of complacency, incompetence, disdain for common sense, closing ranks, and failures in communication.

It's an utterly predictable combination of shortcomings that is endemic in our public services.

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