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Joint Ombudsmen investigation into section 117 aftercare complaint

Archived press release

Date Published: 30/10/12

A report of a joint investigation by the Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman about a complaint into the provision of section 117 aftercare is published today (30 October 2012).

The complaint by an individual, referred to as Miss M, related to the standard of mental health care provided by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust and Wiltshire Council to her late mother, Mrs M. In particular, Miss M complained that her mother had to fund her own care in a residential care home.

Citing section 117 of the Mental Health Act, which makes provision for patients who have been compulsorily detained under the Act to receive free aftercare, Miss M complained it was wrong for Mrs M to have funded her own care during the five years she spent as a resident of the care home.

The Ombudsmen did not uphold any of Miss M’s complaints. Although they found there was no doubt Mrs M had had a severe and enduring mental illness over many years, they could not conclude that her period of residence in a care home, in the last years of her life, was linked to aftercare arising from compulsory detention in hospital some 15 years earlier. Because Mrs M’s general deterioration could not be definitely attributed to her mental health problems, the Ombudsmen could not therefore conclude that the care home’s fees should have been met from public funds. They also found that, despite some procedural failings, Mrs M did not fail to receive the medical or social care services that she needed from the trust or the council.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Health Service Ombudsman is there to help anyone who is unhappy with the service they’ve received from the NHS in England. Their service is free to use and open to everyone.

2. If someone is unhappy about the service they have received from the NHS in England, they should first make their complaint to them and give them the chance to respond. If they’re not happy with how their complaint is dealt with, they should contact the Health Service Ombudsman.

3. Dame Julie Mellor, DBE currently holds the post of the Health Service Ombudsman and is also the Parliamentary Ombudsman. She is appointed by the Crown and is completely independent of government and the NHS.

4. Dr Jane Martin is one of the Local Government Ombudsmen in England. She is appointed by the Crown and is completely independent of local government and other bodies in her jurisdiction. The Local Government Ombudsmen have the power to investigate complaints of injustice arising from maladministration or service failure by local authorities and certain other bodies; complaints about injustice in connection with privately arranged and funded adult social care; and complaints from pupils or their parents about schools in 14 local authority areas.

5. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman can share information, carry out joint investigations and issue joint reports on cases which are relevant to more than one of them.

6. To contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Press Office, please call 0300 061 4996/4272 or email press@ombudsman.org.uk.