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Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (18 003 193a)

Category : Health > Hospital acute services

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Feb 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsmen will not investigate Mr F’s complaint that the Council, Care Home, and CCG prevented him from visiting Ms O or accessing her information between 2013 and 2016. The complaint is made to us late and there are no good reasons for us to investigate now. I propose the Ombudsmen will not investigate Mr F’s complaint about Ms O’s care and treatment, because he is not a suitable representative to bring this complaint.

The complaint

  1. Mr F complains that in October 2013 The Grove Care Home (the Care Home) prevented him from visiting his ex-partner, Ms O. He also complains that NHS Norwich CCG (the CCG) decided in 2016 that he could not visit Ms O or access information about her. Mr F considers Norfolk County Council (the Council) contributed to the best interests decision.
  2. Mr F is also unhappy with how the CCG communicated its decision to him via letter. He believes Norfolk Community Health & Care Trust contributed to the decision and letter.
  3. Mr F says he suffered from not being able to visit Ms O.
  4. Mr F also wants to complain about the care and treatment Ms O received at the Care Home and from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust.

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The Ombudsmen’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsmen have the power to jointly consider complaints about health and social care. Since April 2015, these complaints have been considered by a single team acting on behalf of both Ombudsmen. (Local Government Act 1974, section 33ZA,as amended, and Health Service Commissioners Act 1993, section 18ZA)
  2. The Ombudsmen cannot investigate late complaints unless they decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to the Ombudsmen about something an organisation has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended, and Health Service Commissioners Act 1993, section 9(4).)
  3. We may investigate a complaint on behalf of someone who has died or who cannot authorise someone to act for them. The complaint may be made by:
  • their personal representative (if they have one), or
  • someone we consider to be suitable. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(2), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the evidence Mr F provided in support of his complaint and additional correspondence provided by the Care Home and CCG. I gave Mr F an opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision and considered additional documents that he sent me.

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What I found

  1. Mr F was in a romantic relationship with Ms O at one point, but he and Ms O separated romantically prior to 2010. Ms O had a road traffic accident in February 2010 and suffered brain damage meaning she was dependent on 24-hour nursing care at the Care Home. The CCG funded her placement because she was eligible for NHS Continuing Care (CHC).
  2. Because Ms O lacked the mental capacity to make key decisions about her care and treatment, the Care Home applied for a standard authorisation in order to deprive Ms O of her liberty. This standard authorisation was granted and supervised by the Council.
  3. Mr F visited Ms O in the Care Home following her accident but owing to disagreements with staff the Care Home prevented him from visiting in January 2013.
  4. The CCG held a best interest meeting in 2016 and decided it was not in Ms O’s best interests for Mr F to visit her or access information about him. The CCG wrote to Mr F to explain the best interests decision in February 2016 but Mr F says he only received this letter in December.
  5. Ms O was admitted to hospital on 25 September 2017, and sadly died shortly after this.

Analysis

Mr F being prevented from visiting Ms O

  1. Mr F was prevented from visiting Ms O in 2013 by the care home but first approached our office in 2018. He also complained to us about the content of the letter informing him of the best interest decision. This complaint is made significantly late, and I can see no good reason to investigate it now.
  2. Mr F says the CCG’s best interest’s decision was only ‘confirmed’ to him in July 2017. However, Mr F has shared a letter from his solicitor which confirms that he was aware of the CCG’s decision on 20 December 2016. Mr F should therefore have complained to us about this issue in December 2017 at the latest. As Mr F made a complaint May 2018 this complaint is also late.
  3. Mr F did not raise a formal complaint with the CCG until March 2018, at which point the CCG responded promptly. Mr F says he had a period of grieving for Ms O and a funeral which prevented him from making a complaint sooner. I have seen correspondence which shows Mr F actively pursued a complaint against the Care Home in December 2017. Because of this I consider it is reasonable to expect Mr F to have also complained to the CCG and then our Office during this period. While I sympathise with the sad events Mr F has described, I do not consider this is a reason to investigate this late complaint.

Ms O’s care and treatment

  1. Mr F was not Ms O’s representative whilst she was alive. Other people were appointed to act for her.
  2. In addition, while Mr F disagrees with the best interests decision that was made, I have to take into account that it was decided it was not in Ms O’s best interests for Mr F to visit her.
  3. I am not satisfied that Mr F is a suitable representative to complain about the care and treatment of the late Ms O and therefore we will not investigate this part of his complaint.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsmen will not investigate this complaint. Part of it is made late, and I do not consider Mr F is a suitable representative to complain about the care and treatment Ms O received.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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