Inquiry into social work visit to methadone baby's home

AN INVESTIGATION has been carried out after it emerged council social workers visited the house of a drug addict the day before she fed a two-month-old baby methadone.

Susan Taylor, 29, is currently serving three years at Cornton Vale Prison after giving the baby boy a dummy dripping with the heroin substitute in a bid to keep him quiet.

Although Taylor admitted the charge last September, the case could not be reported until her lesbian partner had faced trial over the incident.

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Fellow drug addict Lynn Cowan, 28, was yesterday reunited with Ms Taylor at Cornton Vale when she was given ten months for failing in her "duty to tell doctors" that the child had ingested the drug.

The court heard that social workers had visited the flat in Leith's Fort just a day before the incident on 22 November 2008 and nothing untoward was reported. They had even ensured all controlled drugs were out of reach of the baby, according to fiscal depute John Kirk.

The following day Ms Taylor rolled the child's dummy in her methadone measuring cup before putting it in his mouth.

The baby sucked on the dummy for around five minutes before passing out, his face grey and his lips blue.

By the time an ambulance arrived on the scene the baby wasn't breathing. The child suffered fits on the way to the Sick Kids Hospital and was rushed to intensive care.

Doctors say it is too early to know whether the boy will suffer any lasting effects.

A council spokesman today said a review had been carried out following the incident.

He said: "Whilst we cannot predict or prevent all instances of harm, we have well-established procedures for assessing risk and we take fast action when we become aware of concerns.

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"Although cases like this are very rare, the Edinburgh child protection committee have carried out a multi-agency significant case review.

"We will consider its contents, as we do with all reviews, to continuously shape the way we deliver our service."

However, the case does not require any major changes in the council's social work procedures, which the spokesman added were "robust".

The case raises questions over whether drug addicts should be allowed to care for children, but charity Children 1st said youngsters should only be removed when there is a clear risk

Chief executive Anne Houston said that Children 1st worked with stable methadone users who can care for children with support.

She continued: "However, there are instances where additional, very intensive, support is required or children may need to be removed to ensure their continued safety."