Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 16 Oct 2018
Ms X and Mr Y complain about what happened when their youngest son, who we shall call Z, was admitted to hospital. Ms X and Mr Y’s son passed away whilst he was in hospital and whilst the family were subject to ongoing court action by the Council regarding their children. Ms X and Mr Y say the Council restricted their ability to spend time with Z when he was in hospital which limited the time they were able to spend with him before he passed away. Ms X and Mr Y complain the Council delayed dealing with their complaint under the statutory children’s complaints procedure.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.
To remedy the injustice caused, the Council has agreed to:
- write to Ms X and Mr Y to apologise for the failure to review supervision arrangements for Z and the fact this meant they lost out on spending time with their son. The Council should also apologise for the delays in dealing with Ms X and Mr Y’s complaint and for misleading them in relation to the reasons for those delays; and
- pay Ms X and Mr Y £2000 for the distress caused as a result of the failure to properly review supervision arrangements whilst Z was in hospital. In reaching a view on the level of distress caused we have taken account of the fact Ms X and Mr Y missed out on spending time with Z which they cannot get back. We consider this would allow the family to spend quality time together, for example on a holiday. However, the family can choose to spend it how they wish. This payment is in addition to the monies already paid by the Council.
The Council should also take the following action to ensure other people using it’s services are not similarly affected:
- Review its existing policies to set out supervision arrangements which can be made available for parents or other relatives visiting looked after children in hospital.
- Contact the second hospital and relevant council to develop a closer working relationship for when looked after children receive treatment outside the Council’s area.
- Review training needs of Council officers at all levels with regards to the statutory complaints process and relevant timescales.
- Review the Council’s handling of statutory children’s complaints since September 2016 to ensure complaints are being dealt with in line with statutory timescales.