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North Lincolnshire Council (20 001 012)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 10 Aug 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council failing to follow a doctor’s recommendation in 2001. There are no good reasons why the late complaint rule should not apply.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says the Council failed to follow a doctor’s advice. He says this caused problems in his life.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X provided with his complaint and the Council’s replies which it provided. Mr X had the opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X says as a child the Council cared for him for a period of time. He says he was admitted to hospital during that time due to health issues.
  2. Mr X says he asked the Council to provide all the information it held on him. Within those documents was a doctor’s report from 2001. He says the doctor recommended the help and support he would need to avoid further worse problems. Mr X says the Council failed to carry out the doctor’s recommendations and that he went on to suffer the problems the doctor envisaged.
  3. The Council has refused to investigate Mr X’s complaint. It says the events are too old. It says all the staff involved have either left or passed away.

Analysis

  1. We will not investigate complaints about events known to Mr X for more than 12 months without good reasons. Here there are not, because:
      1. I am not confident there is a realistic prospect of reaching a sound, fair, and meaningful decision. This is because:
            1. we are less likely to be able to gather enough evidence to reach a sound judgement. Even if some evidence is available, it is doubtful it could be reliable, and provide a full picture.
            2. it is difficult to achieve a meaningful remedy, given the length of time that has already passed, the difficulty in proving causality over longer time periods, and changes in Mr X’s situation.
      2. I am not satisfied Mr X could not reasonably be expected to have complained sooner. It is over 19 years since the doctor’s report. While he may only recently have become aware of the doctor’s report, he was aware of his own health and that he needed support. It is reasonable to expect him to have made a complaint about his general lack of support years ago.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because there are no good reasons why the late complain rule should not apply.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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