Social workers facing action over baby death

Four social care workers are facing disciplinary action following the death of a 13-month-old boy whose neglect was found to be "preventable and predictable".

Three social workers and one social care employee will be investigated over their role in the care of Alex Sutherland, who died after being left in front of a lit gas fire for three days.

His binge-drinking mother, Tracey, 39, was jailed for 27 months last April after she admitted child cruelty.

A serious case review by Manchester Safeguarding Children's Board found no single agency was to blame for failing to protect Alex but his case was "poorly managed throughout".

Manchester City Council said it had carried out an extensive programme of training with care workers in a bid to learn lessons from the death, and yesterday announced the disciplinary action as it conceded it "could have done better".

Mike Livingstone, deputy director of children's services, said: "As part of the serious case review process we have scrutinised every aspect of our involvement with Alex and his family. It is clear from this that there are areas where we could have done better, and as a result four members of staff have been subject to disciplinary investigations.

"Two of the staff members (social workers) are now being brought before formal disciplinary hearings, and the other two staff – while not facing formal disciplinary hearings – are now subject to management instruction and oversight of their work."

The review sad it was of "particular concern" that 17 expressions of concern from members of the public failed to trigger a reconsideration of initial assessments of Alex's care despite agencies knowing of his mother's alcohol misuse.