PRESS RELEASE 13 January 2013
AIMS, run entirely by volunteers, has been a national pressure group for 53 years, for expectant and new parents. Because our help-line is totally confidential, we are trusted with a great deal of information which parents no longer give to doctors, midwives and nurses because information about children is now shared.
Without their knowledge, every pregnant woman (and expectant father) is screened by the NHS to see if they may be a risk to the child, and they are monitored for risk factors like previous mental illness, domestic violence, being a teenager, unemployed, homeless, a former or current drug user, etc. They are then automatically referred to social services, who may hold child protection planning meetings before the baby is born.
At a time when both the current and previous government demanded increased adoption numbers, and newborn babies are the most wanted and adoptable material, such referrals evoke huge fear in parents, and the stress levels this causes have been shown to cause long term damage to unborn children. It also means that mothers are mow concealing mental illness (like post-natal depression) for fear of having their children removed, as many studies (including postnatal suicides in mothers) have shown.
President Jean Robinson, who sat on the GMC for 14 years and its Professional Conduct Committee for 6, says that, having seen many court Documents in AIMS cases, and been a witness in Family Court, she is appalled at the quality of expert evidence accepted without question. This could only happen because hearings are secret; in medical negligence cases expert evidence is of higher quality. And the lack of integrity in social workers’ evidence is so common that we are no longer surprised by it.
There are no studies showing whether current social service policies in fact do more harm than good, and we have seen hundreds of families who have suffered long term damage as a result of even minor interventions. WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE-BASE FOR BENEFIT AND HARM FOR THIS EXPENSIVE AND INCREASINGLY COMMON INTERVENTION?
Beverley Beech, Chair, AIMS
Jean Robinson, President AIMS