Health Service Ombudsman
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Injustice in Residential care: A joint report by the Local Government Ombudsman and the Health Service Ombudsman for England.
Ombudsmen find Council and Health Trust failed to provide acceptable standard of care for man with severe learning disabilities
In a report published today (27 March 08), two Ombudsmen find that the level of care provided by Buckinghamshire County Council and Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership Trust for a man with severe learning disabilities was unacceptable.
The Local Government Ombudsman, Tony Redmond, and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, said that the care needs of 'Frank' (not his real name) were never properly assessed. In their joint report they also identified a number of significant failings in the level of care he received and in complaint handling.
Frank's parents complained to the Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about the care their son received while he was living for two years in a residential care home run jointly by the County Council and the Health Trust. Frank needed one-to-one attention for about 95 per cent of his waking time.
The Ombudsmen's report says Frank and his parents had a right to expect that the Care Home would provide him with appropriate care in an environment conducive to his development, but sadly that did not happen. The Ombudsmen found that there had been fault by both the Council and the Health Trust which caused adverse effects for Frank and his family including acute anxiety and distress and some financial loss. The Ombudsmen recommended that the Council and the Health Trust pay £32,000 compensation.
This is the first time that the Local Government Ombudsman and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman have collaborated on an investigation in this way. Although they have separate jurisdictions over different parts of the complaints, they felt collaboration was in the best interest of Frank and his parents as many aspects of the health and social care complaints are inextricably linked.
The Ombudsmen reported jointly using powers under the new Regulatory Reform (Collaboration etc. between Ombudsmen) Order 2007, which has enabled them to work together more effectively in investigating and reporting on complaints which cross their jurisdictions.
Ann Abraham, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said: "Having the powers to issue a joint report has been invaluable, and the Local Government Ombudsman and I have therefore been able to consider maladministration and the resulting injustice in a joined up manner.
"This demonstrates the significant value of the Order and in turn has allowed us to think about recommending a remedy to Frank and his parents which addresses, in the round, the injustices they have experienced."
Tony Redmond, Local Government Ombudsman, said: "Collaborating with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in this way as a result of the Order is an important step forward. One of the outcomes of this case has been identifying the need for robust and transparent governance arrangements to be in place, in order to provide clear accountability for the actions of authorities. A complainant can then be more readily signposted to the body that can better deal with a complaint."
'Injustice in residential care: a joint report by the Local Government Ombudsman and the Health Service Ombudsman for England' was laid before Parliament on 26 March 2008.
Notes to Editors:
The Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman are appointed by the Crown and are completely independent of the Government, the Civil Service and local government.
Ann Abraham holds both posts as Parliamentary Ombudsman and also Health Service Ombudsman for England. Her role is to provide a service to the public by undertaking independent investigations into complaints that government departments, a range of other public bodies in the UK, and the NHS in England, have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service.
There are three Local Government Ombudsmen in England and they each deal with complaints from different parts of the country.
Local Government Ombudsmen investigate complaints of injustice arising from maladministration by local authorities and certain other bodies. Tony Redmond is the Local Government Ombudsman who published this joint report with Ann Abraham.
There is no charge for using the Ombudsmen's services.
Press copies: the Report is available from the Communications team, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP, telephone: 020 7217 4064, email email@example.com