Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 27 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs A’s late complaint about her mother’s, Mrs B’s, care provider. This is because he could not add to the care provider’s response or make a different finding of the kind Mrs A wants even if he investigated now. The injustice is not significant enough to warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.
- Mrs A complains that her late mother’s, Mrs B’s care provider wrongly placed another person’s information in Mrs B’s file and has not provided her with a copy of the DNACPR (do not resuscitate) it says was in her file. Mrs A says although an investigation cannot bring back her mother, someone should be held accountable for what happened and has not had answers to all the questions she asked.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a care provider has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- We investigate complaints about adult social care providers. 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 could add to any previous investigation by the care provider, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.
(Local Government Act 1974, sections 34B(8) and (9))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mrs A provided. I sent Mrs A a copy of my draft decision and considered the additional documentation she provided.
What I found
- Mrs A complained that her late mother’s care provider said there was a record of a DNACPR in place but has not provided her with a copy of this document even though she has been trying to get this for the last six months.
- While Mrs A wants the document, the Ombudsman could not say she has been caused a significant injustice warranting investigation, or say Mrs B’s care provider should provide her with Mrs B’s health care details.
- Mrs A says there was a letter in Mrs B’s file that did not belong to her. The care provider met with Mrs A and her brother and wrote to her in February 2018. It acknowledged it must have been difficult for them both given the sad circumstances surrounding the last few days of their mother. It explained how DNACPR processes should work and said it has taken on new practices as a result of learning from their complaint. It said it will investigate how the situation happened but believed it to be human error, picking up another document from the printer.
- While Mrs A wants someone to be held accountable for the error, the Ombudsman cannot investigate personnel matters or hold individuals accountable.
- The law says complaints to the Ombudsman must be made-
- in writing, and
- before the end of the permitted period.
(2) In subsection (1)(b), “the permitted period” means the period of 12 months beginning
- the day on which the person affected first had notice of the matter, or
- if the person affected has died without having notice of the matter—
- the day on which the personal representatives of the person affected first had notice of the matter, or
- if earlier, the day on which the complainant first had notice of the matter.
(3) A Local Commissioner may disapply either or both of the requirements in subsection (1)(a) and (b) in relation to a particular complaint.
- The incident Mrs A complains about happened more than 12 months ago. There is no good reason for the Ombudsman to exercise his discretion and disapply the law to investigate this complaint now because it is unlikely any further investigation could add to the care provider’s response or make a different finding of the kind Mrs A wants.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this late complaint. This is because he could not add to the care provider’s response or make a different finding of the kind Mrs A wants even if he investigated now.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman