The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complained the Council denied him the opportunity to be present or informed of his father’s care and support assessments. There is no evidence of fault by the Council.
- The complainant, Mr X, complained the Council failed to inform him about his father’s (Mr F) care and support assessments. He also complained the Council failed to send him his father’s assessment reports.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered Mr X’s complaint and his previous complaint to the Ombudsman.
- I considered the information provided by the Council in response to my enquiries.
- I considered Mr X’s comments I received in response to my draft decision. The Council advised it had no comments to make on the draft decision.
What I found
- In July 2016, Mr X requested the Council to keep him informed about all aspects of his father’s, Mr F’s, welfare.
- Mr X complained to the Council on 20 September 2018 that it had excluded him from involvement in Mr F’s welfare. He said he had not received any invitations to attend Mr F’s care assessments or received reports of any kind since January 2017.
- Mr X also said that he had been made aware that Mr F had been relocated to a respite care home and he requested the Council to provide him with the address.
- The Council responded to Mr X on 27 September 2018. It said that its records showed that it did not hold a copy of a Lasting Power of Attorney for Mr X to represent Mr F and consequently it was unable to disclose any information regarding his father to him. The Council said it would be able to fully respond to his request if he was able to provide this document.
- Mr X wrote to the Council 2 October 2018 and requested the Council explain the reasons for its refusal to provide him with the information when it had provided him with information previously. Mr X said the Council’s response did not explain the overall exclusion from involvement in Mr F’s welfare.
- The Council conducted an investigation into Mr X’s complaint and responded to him on 9 November 2018. The Council’s response to Mr X said the following:
- Mr F is an adult who is entitled to have his personal information kept confidential.
- Being classed as ‘next of kin’ is not sufficient when it comes to the disclosure of personal data.
- The only way in which Mr F’s personal information might be disclosed to Mr X is if he had Mr F’s consent or if he was named in a valid Lasting Power of Attorney.
- Mr X’s brother, Mr B, does hold a Lasting Power of Attorney.
- The Council acknowledges this is a difficult situation for Mr X but it is not in a position to breach confidentiality or data protection regulations.
- If Mr X was unhappy with the Council’s stance on the matter Mr X could approach the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- Mr X requested the Council to keep him informed about his father’s welfare. I consider the Council’s response to Mr X after it investigated his complaint adequately explains why Mr X is not entitled to Mr F’s personal information.
- The Council has explained to Mr X that his father is entitled to have his personal information kept confidential and the only way in which it could provide this information is if it had his father’s consent or if there was a valid Lasting Power of Attorney.
- It is acknowledged that it must be frustrating for Mr X to not know the address of the care home his father resides at and to not have information regarding his welfare. However, the Council does not have the authority to disclose Mr F’s personal information to Mr X. There is no fault by the Council.
- There is no evidence of fault by the Council. I have therefore completed my investigation and closed this complaint.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman