Probe launched at nursery after toddler suffers 'chemical burn'

Austin's mum Samantha Riley was horrified to find her son 'screaming and pulling at his clothes' at Firtrees Nursery in Motherwell.

A boy has been treated for a chemical burn his parents say he suffered at nursery, prompting a police investigation.

Chris and Samantha Riley found a large red mark on one-year-old Austin’s stomach after picking him up from Firtrees Nursery in Motherwell on Monday, October 31.

Mrs Riley claims she could hear “blood-curdling” screaming before she entered the room to collect him, and said she found him thrashing about and pulling at his clothes.

She recalled there was a strong chemical smell, which she believed to be cleaning products.

She told STV News: “He didn’t want to touch me and I couldn’t hold him. I knew there was something not right with him as he was screaming the whole way home.

Austin with dressing on after being treated at hospital

“When we got home Chris asked what the smell was, and said it was on his clothes.

“We took his clothes off and we saw a bright red mark. It was so red and looked so sore.”

Mrs Riley gave him a cold shower before taking him to University Hospital Wishaw to be treated at around 7.10pm.

Samantha Riley with her son Austin

The couple were told they would be questioned by police over the circumstances of the boy’s injury, but said they were later informed officers were satisfied that the injury happened “in the care of the nursery”.

Mrs Riley said: “We were treated by social work that we had done something wrong, so that was a huge weight off my shoulders.

“The nursery said it didn’t happen right from the get go. It’s been complete denial.

“They tried to blame his Halloween costume, a cotton onesie. He’s worn it before and was washed before he wore it that day.

“If it was a reaction to the outfit, it wouldn’t have happened in the last hour of the day.

“They have been so dismissive and refused to acknowledge the possibility that something could have happened there.”

It follows a previous probe into the nursery after a three-year-old ate rat poison in the nursery grounds in May 2022.

The Care Inspectorate upheld four complaints against the nursery in relation to the incident and determined that it had failed to provide a safe environment.

Chiefs at Firtrees Nursery have said there is no evidence to suggest the boy suffered a chemical burn in their care and that rules have been tightened since the previous incident.

It is understood Austin’s costume is also currently being tested.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police are investigating a report of a one-year-old boy sustaining an injury to his abdomen while at a nursery in Motherwell on Tuesday, October 31, 2023.

“The child was taken to Wishaw General Hospital for treatment and later discharged.

“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.”

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “A concern has been raised with us about this service and we are considering all information given to us carefully.

“If we uphold a complaint we publish the outcome on our website.”

A spokesperson for the nursery said: “When the child was taken from his home to hospital that evening by his parents, clinical staff on duty followed established protocols to involve police and other authorities.

“Our staff work hard to sustain a safe, caring and happy learning environment for children while they are in our care, so we were of course concerned to hear about this. We have done everything possible to assist, enabling swift review of play materials as well as the cleaning products used at our premises.

“There is no evidence that any of these could have been harmful. A fancy dress costume the child had worn to nursery during the day, which was not provided by the nursery, is still being tested.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further until all relevant inquiries have been concluded, but we have reassured parents that the nursery has every confidence in the safety of the environment it provides.”

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