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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 16:54 GMT
McGarrity mother died from drugs
By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland news website
Edinburgh and East

The boy survived in the flat for more than a month
The mother of a three-year-old boy who survived alongside her dead body for more than a month died of a drug overdose, toxicology reports confirm.

The procurator fiscal has told the family of Anne-Marie McGarrity she died from "fatal multi-drug poisoning".

Michael McGarrity was found in a flat in the city's Leith area last October.

Meanwhile, a report obtained by BBC Scotland's news website said there was no evidence NHS Lothian or the city council could have prevented the death.

The report, commissioned by NHS Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, is to be discussed on Thursday.

Logs simplified

It says that computer logs showing the comings and going of residents at tower blocks in Edinburgh are to be checked every 10 days following the McGarrity case.

It states this will require system upgrades at a cost of 35,000, which will be covered by council budgets.

The system is also being looked into to see if the logs can be simplified for concierges "to reduce the possibility of staff misinterpreting data".

The case has prompted a number of actions to review procedures and introduce new ones across both organisations
Report findings

Residents will also be able to put their names down on a "Vulnerable Tenants Register" which will mean they are checked every three days by a concierge.

The review says there will be extra training for concierges, who will now also "ensure they use local knowledge" to help in the new procedures, with block managers making sure "monitoring is carried out regularly".

It also stresses a need for "further strengthen systems of communication" within and between all agencies.

The report concludes, "While, there is no evidence to suggest that the death of Anne-Marie McGarrity could have been prevented by NHS or council intervention, the case has prompted a number of actions to review procedures and introduce new ones across both organisations to ensure that systems and procedures are even more robust and focussed on the protection of the child."

The report also states that parents are to be contacted by 1030 GMT if their children fail to turn up at school or nursery in the capital.

The council is also introducing a new support service for drug-using mothers.

The concierges will now be encouraged to take a more active approach in the wellbeing of their tenants and this is to be welcomed
Steve Cardownie
SNP councillor

SNP councillor Steve Cardownie, for the Newhaven ward which covers Fort House where Ms McGarrity's body was found, said: "This is obviously a tragic occurrence and it appears that Anne-Marie was a loving and caring mother.

"The fact that she had a well stocked fridge and cupboard undoubtedly saved little Michael's life.

"For the council's part I welcome the review of the procedures and the recommendations which may go some way to ensuring that a tragic event such as this will be unlikely to happen.

"The concierges will now be encouraged to take a more active approach in the wellbeing of their tenants and this is to be welcomed."

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: "The fiscal has informed the family of Anne-Marie McGarrity that toxicology reports show she died from fatal multi-drug poisoning."

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "We investigated the circumstances surrounding the death of Anne-Marie McGarrity and submitted a report to the procurator fiscal."


SEE ALSO:
Boy 'improving' after flat ordeal
19 Oct 05 |  Scotland


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