Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (17 017 103)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 17 Apr 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs M’s complaint about a medical examination carried out on her adult child. It is unlikely we would say the alleged injustice has been caused by the Council’s fault.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs M, says the Council forced her child, B, to undergo an unnecessary medical examination.

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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
    • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
    • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs M provided with her complaint. I have also considered the Council’s replies to her complaint which it provided. Mrs M had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs M has a 19 year old child, B, who provided their consent for Mrs M to complain on their behalf.
  2. Mrs M says in the summer of 2017 Council officers told her to get B medically tested. She says the officers threatened to take High Court action if she did not do so.
  3. Mrs M and B went to their GP. The GP authorised a referral for a gastroscopy report. A hospital doctor carried this out in November 2017. Mrs M has provided the report. It says B’s BMI was low but the other results were normal.
  4. Mrs M complained to the Council. It said its officers had visited her home twice following a referral from B’s school about B’s weight. It says at the first appointment Mrs M agreed to take B to the doctors.
  5. Mrs M says the hospital appointment and the officers’ visits caused great upset. She has requested £40000 in compensation.

Analysis

  1. B’s GP authorised and referred B for the medical examination, not the Council. GPs authorise and refer a patient only when they can medically justify it. Our investigation is therefore unlikely to say the Council officer’s actions to suggest the doctor’s appointment, was fault or the Council officer’s actions caused the hospital medical examination.
  2. It is reasonable to expect Mrs M to apply to Court if she feels B has been personally injured by the examination especially as she is claiming a significant high-level of compensation. The Courts are better placed to consider the level of any injury and the direct cause of those injuries.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would say any Council fault caused the alleged injustice and the Courts are better placed.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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