THE parents of a dying baby were denied precious time with their son because of failings by City of York Council social workers.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the mother and father of a seriously ill baby were unable to spend quality time with him at a time when “their world must have felt like it was falling apart” because council social workers failed to review the case.

The baby died after spending nine weeks in hospital.

A spokeswoman for the council said it was “extremely sorry” for the distress caused and apologised unreservedly to the family.

The baby was taken to hospital in 2016 with breathing problems. A doctor noticed the baby’s ribs were fractured and the council began a safeguarding investigation. The parents said the injuries may have been caused by previous medical treatments.

Social workers placed strict supervision arrangements on the parents - meaning they had to be supervised at all times when visiting their baby in hospital - and the couple’s two other children had to be cared for by grandparents.

It meant on some days the parents spent less time with their son because no one was available to supervise them and on one day it meant they could not visit him at all. They repeatedly asked for the arrangements to be relaxed as their son’s health got worse, but social workers refused.

Following the child’s death, a court criticised the council’s handling of the case and said the baby’s injuries could not have been caused by his parents. They were cleared of any child protection concerns.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Nobody could criticise the social workers in this case for starting the safeguarding action. But what they should have done was keep the situation under review, especially once it became clear there was very little risk to the child, and his condition deteriorated.

“This would have been a horrifically stressful time for the family, at a time when their world must have felt like it was falling apart.

“Social workers should have done more to facilitate the parents’ visits, for example by contacting social workers in the neighbouring authority, or the hospital’s own patient liaison services.

“And to compound this family’s distress, the council took far too long to investigate their concerns when they complained about their treatment.

“I’m pleased York council has accepted the findings of this report, and hope the remedies recommended will prevent other families going through such a distressing situation.”

A report by the ombudsman said the council failed to visit the baby in hospital and if someone had visited, it is likely the supervision arrangements would have been relaxed so the couple could spend more time with their child.

It also found that the council took more than a year - 343 working days - to respond to the couple’s complaint about the way their case was handled.

Maxine Squire, interim corporate director for children, education and communities at the council, said: “We are extremely sorry for the distress caused and have apologised unreservedly to the family.

“We fully accept the ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. We have already taken action to ensure that lessons are learnt from this case and that our procedures are improved.”

The council paid the parents £2,000 for the distress caused.

Read the full report here.