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Woman failed to take badly burned toddler to hospital

Natasha MacDonald said the 16-month-old child 'had an accident with the kettle and she's all burnt'.

Ambulance: The 16-month-old child suffered injuries.
Ambulance: The 16-month-old child suffered injuries. STV

A woman didn't take a badly burned toddler to hospital until she was threatened with the police, a court heard.

Natasha MacDonald saw the 16-month-old child was injured on April 16, 2017, while she was in her care.

She later told her mum the little girl "had an accident with the kettle and she's all burnt".

MacDonald phoned her own doctor for advice but when the GP later saw the extent of the child's injuries believes they were "played down".

Days later after hearing her sister had phoned NHS 24 and reported back if the child was not seen by medics immediately the police would be contacted - MacDonald took her to hospital.

The 30-year-old, from Pollok, Glasgow, pleaded guilty at the city's sheriff court to wilfully neglecting the child between April 16 and 19, 2017.

The charge includes failing to get her appropriate medical care and treatment for burns and causing the child to suffer pain and discomfort, permanent disfigurement and expose her to the risk of infection.

The court heard on April 16, the child was crying and was "comforted" by MacDonald after suffering burn injuries.

It is not known how the 16-month-old received the injuries.

Another child in the house at the time was told by MacDonald "she's burnt herself" and he described her foot as "like when you burst a blister and bits were hanging off".

MacDonald told the other child "it must have been that", talking about the kettle.

Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan said: "The accused later stated to the police that she took the child to the bathroom and put her into a cold shower for an extended period of time.

"She thereafter contacted NHS 24 however later she informed the police that she was met with an automated message advising she could obtain information via the website.

"She decided she would do this rather than wait on hold."

'She thereafter contacted NHS 24 however later she informed the police that she was met with an automated message advising she could obtain information via the website. She decided she would do this rather than wait on hold.'
Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan

MacDonald told officers that after checking online she decided to keep the wounds cool and aired.

The court was told the following day the child was still upset and crying.

MacDonald texted her mum and told her the little girl "had an accident yesterday with the kettle and she's all burnt".

Two days after the incident the child's burns became red and the skin had come off and MacDonald phoned her GP.

Mr Allan added: "The doctor called the accused back, during the call the accused stated '(the girl) burned herself on Sunday. She's pulled down, it was a little bucket of hot water I'd made and she's pulled it down off the worktop, she burned her hand and her foot and then she slipped on the water and fell on her back. So it's pretty sore, I've cooled it, like'."

MacDonald went on to tell the doctor she had given the child paracetamol and that the skin had come off and was going "scabby" and asked if it was okay to put something over it so she doesn't hurt herself.

The court heard "given the tone" of MacDonald, the doctor prescribed liquid paraffin.

Mr Allan said: "Later once the doctor saw the photographs of the injuries and realising the extent of the burns, due to the accused demeanour on the phone she believes that she played down the severity of the injuries."

MacDonald's sister later saw the child and said 'we need to take her to hospital'.

Despite the clear concerns, MacDonald didn't take her to hospital.

Her sister phoned NHS and described the severity and extent of the burns and was told "if the child was not taken to the hospital immediately the police would be contacted".

MacDonald's mum passed this information on to her and the court heard "it was only at this point" that she took the toddler to hospital.

The child was found to have burns which were "extensive and on both the front and back of the body and right leg".

The court heard she had a general anaesthetic to have them cleaned.

A paediatric consultant was not able to say what caused the burns but they were "not consistent with a scald".

Mr Allan added: "Dr McGill a plastic surgeon cannot explain the mechanism for these burns.

"His main concerns were delayed presentation, the story of very little care in terms of dressings or provisions for (the girl) in the days before attending."

Another doctor estimated the burns were of around 10 per cent of the total body area and noted that MacDonald claimed the girl did not really cry and that she just "whimpered".

He stated this would be "unprecedented and implausible for a burn of the severity and extent".

Sheriff Sean Murphy QC deferred the case until next month for reports and up to date pictures of the child's injuries.

Defence lawyer Des Ziolo will give his plea in mitigation then.

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