Bertram Nursery Group investigated over baby injury

Jo Parkes
Thursday, June 2, 2016

A major nursery group has hit back at suggestions a baby was ‘strangled’ by a blind cord at one of its settings.

‘The incident did not involve strangulation and a dangling child from a cord from a blind,’ said Bertram Nursery Group managing director Cary Rankin, reacting to the shocking reports about one-year-old Willow Green.

The child's mother Kelly Connolly reportedly discovered the sore red stripe on her baby daughter’s neck only after she was sent home from Holyrood Nursery Hope, in Salford, Manchester.

Ms Connolly, herself a senior children’s nurse, has slammed the nursery for alleged policy failures and not alerting her following the incident on Friday morning (27 May).

She is understood to have taken her daughter for hospital treatment as soon as she saw the injury later that day, after she had completed a 12-hour shift.

Salford City Council is investigating safeguarding at the Stott Lane setting, which is one of 37 across England and Scotland owned by the group. The nursery offers provision to NHS staff at Salford Royal Hospital.willow-green

According to Ms Connolly, her babysitter collected Willow from nursery and was told she had 'been strangled’.

'Nobody attempted to ring me up at work and explain what had happened,' said the mother. 'My baby would have needed me right there and then.

'The communication was absolutely poor. There was none there. Policies, procedures... Nothing was adhered to.'

In another online clip, Ms Connolly can be seen cradling and kissing her daughter as she relives the horror.

‘The worst day of my life,’ she says. ‘God, to think you put her in someone’s care like that.

‘I dread to think what could have happened. It breaks my heart.

‘I hate waking up - I see her dangling and I can’t get to her.

‘I hope no other baby and no other parents ever go through that.

‘It’s the worst feeling ever. It breaks my heart.’

Bertram's managing director Mr Rankin said the company had carried out its own investigation and found all blind cords had been removed following a risk assessment some time ago.

He added that Willow had in fact got tangled in some cotton threads that had frayed from a fabric blind, and that Ms Connolly was shown the damaged fabric at a meeting with managers on Tuesday, 31 May.

He claimed CCTV corroborates the account of the incident which was over in a ‘matter of seconds’, but he added that the company had apologised to the family.

'We conducted internal risk assessments and we had removed any cords that operate blinds,' said Mr Rankin.

‘It’s a piece of thread, not a cord. The child had become entangled in that piece of cotton thread which was unfortunately around her neck.

‘There was no strangulation or dangling.

‘We immediately reviewed the blind and did further risk assessments to make sure none of the other blinds are frayed.

‘If there is a potential risk we will remove them to prevent recurrence.'

Mr Rankin admitted the outcome could have been far worse, but went on to detail measures that were and continue to be taken.

‘We are not trying to steer away from the fact that this could have been serious,’ he said.

‘A member of staff did immediately come to the aid of the child.

‘We have viewed the CCTV footage.

‘We spoke to the parents at the meeting and absolutely apologised.

‘We do want to sit down and see if there is any learning from this and absolutely understand that we have a responsibility and duty of care to all the parents and children at the nursery.’

The director said that the nursery continues to run ‘as usual’ and added, ‘The regional management team and nursery manager have met every parent on their way in to the nursery this morning, to answer any questions and be on hand.

‘So far the parents have been very supportive and understand, now we have given some clarity on the situation.’

Referring to the allegation that Ms Connolly was not contacted at the time of the incident, Mr Rankin said, 'We accept we need to review the communication following the events on the day.

'That will form part of a strategy meeting with the local authority.'

Mr Rankin added that a strategy meeting with the local authority is due to take place this week, to which police and Ofsted would be invited.

Councillor Lisa Stone, lead member for children’s and young people’s services at the city council, said, ‘We have been made aware of an incident by the nursery and have begun an investigation.

‘This process will be done thoroughly but as quickly as possible. We take children’s safety very seriously and will work with the nursery and staff to make sure the children are safe.’

An Ofsted spokesperson said, 'We are aware of an incident at this setting and are carrying out an investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment further while this is ongoing.'

  • Photos: Manchester Evening News

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