By Charlotte Webster-
Lancashire’s social services failed a suicidal teenage boy who died, after social services were not kept in the loop of developments. incident in Blackpool.
Marshall Metcalfe(pictured left) died at the Royal Preston Hospital on May 7 last year after an incident at Sainsbury’s car park in Blackpool.
She fell from the Sainsburys car park in Blackpool and died from massive internal injuries at Royal Preston Hospital on May 7 2020.
A month after his death, his mother, Jane Ireland, (pictured right) after taking a quantity of methadone, which contributed to her death.
The pair had both been under the care of the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust mental health services in Blackpool, where they were battling severe mental health issues.
An inquest at Blackpool Town Hall revealed that the 17-year-old was described as “one of the most complex young people we have ever seen” by bosses from Lancashire County Council’s social services department.
Marshall had been under the care of social services as he was classed as a ‘child in need’ and this morning the inquest, which started on Monday, heard evidence from Brendan Lee, the head of service for children and social care at Lancashire County Council.
The inquest heard that one social worker had failed to follow correct procedure when Marshall was re-referred to social services, and records about the troubled youth revealed ”fundamental flaws”.
“We should have been arranging some care planning but I’m not sure why that didn’t happen,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee was asked if the social worker who failed to do this had been “spoken to”.
“He hasn’t been spoken to yet but he will,” Mr Lee replied.
Mr Lee was then asked why the social worker hadn’t been spoken to already and he admitted: “I can’t answer that.”
The Eye Of Media.Com has asked Lancaster Council to make public what disciplinary action will be taken against the social worker who failed to follow correct proceedure, and any other social workers who failed the young teen.
Lancaster Council said it is looking into the matter.
Marshall’s death came after two spells in The Cove, a specialist in-patient unit in Heysham for young people with mental health issues, where he had disclosed to staff that he planned to kill himself. Special attention should have been paid to his case, instead he was left to his own devices.
Exactly one month after Marshall’s death, his mum Jane Ireland was found dead at her home in Lytham having taken a suspected overdose.
Mr Lee, who has “vast experience” in children’s social care, said the council had identified a number of areas for lessons to be learned following Marshall’s death.
He admitted that although staff at The Cove had a “strong feeling that children’s social care should remain involved in Marshall’s case”, his case was closed by social services.
When Marshall was discharged from The Cove in 2019, he was no longer under the care of social services despite concerns about his mum’s own mental health and “capacity to parent” Marshall.
Staff from The Cove sent what is known as a Section 85 letter to Lancashire County Council, notifying them he had been discharged, but the letter was not passed on to social services. Marshall, who lived with his mum in Lytham, subsequently went without support from social services for several weeks.
“That should have triggered some action by children’s social care,” Mr Lee told the inquest.
“One of the lessons to be learned that we have picked up from this is that the people who received that letter should have forwarded it to us. It would have been prudent to pick up the phone to contact any previous social workers involved.”
Mr Lee said the briefing issued to the customer services department was “a clear instruction that we need to do some learning” from Marshall’s case.
“It made it clear that any Section 85 should be referred to the social worker,” he added.
Mr Lee said social services had been under “considerably increased pressure” as a result of lockdown. The service currently receives around 800 referrals a day.
After the death of her brother and mother, Holly Ireland launched a campaign to raise awareness about what the family believe were failings in Marshall’s care.
Holly, 26, has set up a website, Marshall’s Movement, to publicise her concerns.
On the first day of the inquest Holly paid tribute to her mum and brother. She described Marshall as a popular boy who loved fishing and football while her mum was “incredibly generous” and kind.