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Ombudsman raps council over failure to complete agreed remedy

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised Staffordshire County Council for failing to apologise to a woman in good time following an earlier investigation.

The woman, who has both mental as well as physical health needs, had raised her problems with the council to the Ombudsman on two separate occasions.

“Following the last complaint, where she complained about her care and support plan, the council agree to apologise to her, pay her a financial remedy and assign a social worker to reassess her needs,” the LGO said.

The Ombudsman then gave the council a deadline to carry out the actions it had agreed to take, but it failed to do so, the LGO claimed.

The Ombudsman’s latest investigation found the council at fault for:

  • not making the apology and payment within the agreed timescales;
  • its response to the service improvements recommended following the first complaint.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “People can only have confidence in their local authorities if they stick to their word and carry out actions they have agreed. In this case, a vulnerable woman with mental health difficulties has been let down twice, and her trust in her local council has been eroded.

“I now urge Staffordshire County Council to agree to my recommendations and do what it can to ensure this woman receives the care she needs, subject to her engaging with the process.”

The LGO has now recommended that:

  • the council should meet with the woman and her advocate if she completes another self-assessment form, so she can deliver it to the relevant office and discuss it with her advanced social work practitioner;
  • apologise to her;
  • pay her a further £500 for the distress caused and the trouble she has been put to;
  • meet with the Trust to agree an action plan for ensuring agreed remedies are completed within the required timescales and assessments and care and support plans meet the requirements of the Care and Support Statutory Guidance.

Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “This has been a complex and challenging case for the authority from the beginning and we have changed some of our procedures.

“All the things the Ombudsman has asked for have been enacted, but, given the sensitivities of this particular case we have focused on doing the right thing at the right time for the individual involved rather than insisting on certain actions simply to comply with the deadline.”

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