A 6 week old girl has bronchiolitis and is seen in the Emergency Department

A 6 week old girl has bronchiolitis and is seen in the Emergency Department. She is medically stable and ready for discharge. There were no problems in pregnancy. She was born at term by normal vaginal delivery. She is an only child. Her mother says that she cannot cope with her new baby.

Which is the most appropriate initial management?

  1. Arrange temporary foster care
  2. Contact social services
  3. Refer back to her GP
  4. Refer her to safeguarding team
  5. Organise a Place of Safety order

B. Contact social services


A mother voicing concerns that she cannot cope may be a sign of depression or other mental illness. Whatever the reason, such a comment is a ‘red flag’ that the child’s care may be compromised, and that her mother needs support. Social service departments are legally required to support family members who have additional needs beyond what health, education or community services can provide, so referral to social services is the best answer here.

Social services have a duty to safeguard children who are at risk of harm, but in the case described in this question however there is no evidence to suggest an immediate risk of harm so that option is not the single best answer here. Likewise foster care might be needed at a future stage if the situation worsens, but not at this point. Her GP cannot provide the type of support required by this child’s mother. A Place of Safety order is not appropriate as this is used to detain a child because of the ill-treatment or neglect ant this is not the case here.