AN angry woman today claimed a routine check up of her hyperactive daughter turned into a nightmare when a doctor accused her of hurting the toddler.

Pamela Neary, 27, who has three other children, two of which also have special needs, says she was made to feel like an "unfit mother" when bruises were found on the ears and body of 23-month-old Saffron during a child assessment session at Darwen Health Centre.

Social workers were called in and the child was examined by paediatricians at Blackburn's Queen's Park Hospital.

"It was the first time I have asked for help in coping and I couldn't believe it when it was suggested that I had been mistreating my daughter," said Pamela, of Perry Street, Darwen.

"Saffron bites herself and others and only sleeps a couple of hours every night. I just wanted some support and advice on how best to care for her." The single mother, who plans to make an official complaint, said she spent more than four hours sorting out the matter before being told by specialists that there was no cause for concern.

She added: "I understand there are procedures to be followed so that child abuse cases don't slip through the net.

"I am an excellent mother and the way this matter was dealt with was completely uncalled for, especially as I had witnesses who could confirm Saffron had fallen down the stairs. My other children were very distressed as they were forced to wait at school for an hour."

A spokeswoman for Communicare NHS Trust said: "When this child was referred to Social Services it was in compliance with Child Protection guidelines.

"If her other children were waiting at school she should have notified the social workers. If the mother has any complaint about the treatment she received she needs to put it in writing and it will be fully investigated."

A spokesman for the Community Health Council said staff would be happy to advice Miss Neary about the relevant complaint procedure.

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