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London Borough of Lewisham (19 011 488)

Category : Adult care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 03 Jan 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms X complains on behalf of Mr Y about the Council’s decision not to allow Mr Y to travel abroad. The Ombudsman will not investigate the complaint because there is no evidence of fault by the Council and an investigation is unlikely to lead to a different outcome.

The complaint

  1. On behalf of the complainant, who I refer to as Mr Y, his representative, Ms X, complains about the Council’s decision to refuse her permission to take Mr Y abroad to visit his grandmother. She says they have a close relationship and that as she has seen other disabled people travelling long distances, she feels Mr Y is being treated differently.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. In considering the complaint I reviewed the information provided by Ms X and the Council. I gave Ms X the opportunity to comment on my draft decision and took into account the comments she made.

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What I found

  1. Mr Y has severe learning difficulties and challenging behaviour. He is in the care of the Council and receives support from specialised teams who know how to manage his needs.
  2. Ms X, his mother, says she asked the Council for permission to take him abroad to visit his elderly grandmother. She says her sister, who is a doctor, wrote a letter supporting her request.
  3. Because of the severity of Mr Y’s condition, the Council refused Ms X’s request. She complained to the Council about this. It investigated her concerns and took into account her suggestions about how she would keep Mr Y occupied if he travelled by ship or plane. As part of its investigation, and at Ms X’s request, the Council carried out a mental capacity assessment for Mr Y on travelling abroad and held best interest discussions. However, the professionals involved in Mr Y’s care confirmed the decision as they felt it would not be safe or reasonable for Mr Y to take such a trip. It confirmed it had not received a letter from Ms X’s sister and so could not have responded to it.


  1. I understand the Council’s decision is very disappointing for both Mr Y and Ms X. However, we cannot review the merits of the Council’s decision and there is no evidence of fault in way it came to it. I have seen no evidence to suggest Mr Y has been discriminated against.
  2. Ms X says she has seen people with disabilities taking trips and that Mr Y should be able to do the same. However, the severity of Mr Y’s disability is such that the professionals involved in his care do not consider it is safe for him to do so.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is no evidence of fault by the Council and an investigation is unlikely to lead to a different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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