Hamzah Khan tragedy: Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee says still room for improvement

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Professor Nick Frost, independent chairman of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board with the report ahead of the briefing Professor Nick Frost, independent chairman of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board with the report ahead of the briefing

Organisations responsible for the wellbeing of children in Bradford have made improvements in the aftermath of the Hamzah Khan tragedy, a meeting heard last night.

But the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee also said that there was still room for improvement.

Councillors and education representatives on the committee agreed that the overview report into the Hamzah Khan Serious Case Review should be endorsed. But it was made clear that the committee wanted regular progress updates on what continued improvements were being made.

Hamzah died in December 2009, but his mummified body was not discovered until September 2011, and in October this year his mother, alcoholic Amanda Hutton, was jailed for 15 years after being found guilty of manslaughter, neglect and preventing a burial.

Professor Nick Frost, chairman of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, spoke to the meeting and answered questions.

He said: “The main thing was that we need to learn from what happened. A lot of these events were a long time ago – it starts from 2006.

“Hand on heart, I can say a lot of things have changed since then. We are constantly in a learning process.”

He continued: “The services in Bradford are really, really good. About two weeks before our report, another colleague of mine stood up and said services in Birmingham are poor and that there were likely to be more child deaths in Birmingham. I don’t think that for Bradford – I know the services in Bradford are good, although they can always be improved.

“I want to make sure these reports do not gather dust and are real and living reports.”

Prof Frost said that progress included changes in three areas: the assessment process; the registration of children with a GP; and an automatic notification system for child births with children’s centres.

Councillor Mohammad Shabbir (Ind) represents the Heaton ward that Hamzah lived in. He spoke despite not being on the scrutiny committee and claimed the report left a lot of questions unanswered, adding: “It doesn’t go far enough for me.”

Mike Pollard, a governor representative, raised concerns about the workload of social workers.

Kath Tunstall, strategic director of Children’s Services at Bradford Council, also told the meeting that GPs’ surgeries would no longer take families off the register unless they are proven to have been registered with another GP.

The meeting had heard that Hutton’s children were taken off a GP’s register because they never visited the doctor.

Committee chairman Coun Malcolm Sykes said: “We can never draw a line under this, but we can move on from it.”

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