Tag: Review

Ombudsman says social work failings deny parents time with dying baby


Image result for social work ombudsman logo
The parents of a seriously ill baby were unable to spend quality time with their child in his last few weeks of life, because City of York social workers did not review his case properly, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said.

Social workers placed strict supervision arrangements on the parents after injuries were discovered when the parents took their baby to hospital with breathing difficulties. The parents told social workers, and the doctor treating their son, the injuries could have been caused by previous hospital treatment.

As a result of this decision, the parents’ two other children had to be cared for by grandparents, while the parents had to be supervised at all times when visiting the baby in hospital. Even when the baby’s condition deteriorated, social workers did not relax the restrictions, despite numerous requests. Some days the parents could only spend four hours with their son. And on one day, lack of supervision meant they were not able to visit him at all.

The baby died nine weeks after his admission to hospital.

A month after the baby died, a court relaxed the supervision arrangements with the couple’s other children. And at a final hearing 11 weeks later, the court criticised the council’s handling of the case, stating the council had decided the fractures ‘cannot have been attributed to parental care’.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council should have reviewed the supervision arrangements or offered third party services to provide supervision in hospital. It also failed to visit the baby in hospital and the care plan drawn up did not consider the baby’s emotional needs.

The report also criticises the council’s response to the family’s complaint, which took more than 270 days too long to complete.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: 

“Nobody could criticise the social workers in this case for starting the safeguarding action. But what they should have done was keep the situation under review, especially once it became clear there was very little risk to the child, and his condition deteriorated.

“This would have been a horrifically stressful time for the family, at a time when their world must have felt like it was falling apart. Social workers should have done more to facilitate the parents’ visits, for example by contacting social workers in the neighbouring authority, or the hospital’s own patient liaison services. 

“And to compound this family’s distress, the council took far too long to investigate their concerns when they complained about their treatment. 

“I’m pleased York council has accepted the findings of this report, and hope the remedies recommended will prevent other families going through such a distressing situation.”

When the baby, who had a range of health conditions, was taken to hospital, a doctor treating him noticed injuries to his ribs. The family said these could have been caused by invasive, physical, medical interventions during a previous hospital stay.

Social workers began a safeguarding investigation.

A court granted interim care orders for the other children while investigations were carried out into the baby’s injuries. The court ordered the supervision arrangements be kept under review.

The baby was moved to another hospital in a nearby city when his condition deteriorated. This hospital was not able to supervise the parents’ visits, and the grandparents could not help as they were looking after the other two children. The parents had to rely on other family members to accompany them, which was not always possible. At no point did a social worker visit the baby in hospital to see the situation for themselves.

As the baby’s condition began to deteriorate, the parents asked social workers to relax the restrictions so they could spend more time with their critically ill son. The hospital again said it could not provide the supervision, and there is no evidence the council looked at alternative solutions.

When the court proceedings concluded, it asked the Home Office Disclosure and Barring Service to remove any reference markers from the parents’ records relating to child protection concerns.

The family complained to City of York Council about their situation. Instead of taking a maximum 65 days to respond to their complaint, the response took 343.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services.

In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the family and pay them £2,000 for the distress caused by its actions.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve a council’s processes for the wider public.

In this case the council has agreed to review its existing policies to set out supervision arrangements to be made available for parents or other relatives visiting looked after children in hospital.

It will also contact the second hospital and relevant council to develop closer working relationships for when looked after children receive treatment outside the council’s area.

To improve its complaint responses under the statutory children’s complaints process, it will review officer training at all levels and will review statutory complaints handled since September 2016 to ensure they are dealt with in line with timescales.


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Second Independent Review of Personal Independence Payment assessment


Any social security policy that is implemented with the expressed aim of “targeting those most in need” is invariably about cost cutting and reducing eligibility criteria for entitlement. The government were explicit in their statement about the original policy intent of Personal Independence Payment. The government has already considered ways of reducing eligibility criteria for the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment by narrowing definitions of aids and appliances, earlier this year.

In July, the Department for Work and Pensions appointed Paul Gray CB to undertake the second “independent review” of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment. This is the second independent review as required by Section 89 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

This review includes a call for evidence of the PIP assessment. It seeks information about how the PIP assessment is “working.” The consultation includes all stages of the PIP process, with a particular focus on the use of further evidence in the claim process, data sharing and the claimant experience. 

However, I’m just wondering where the ever-reductive targeting quest for the ever-shrinking category of “those with the greatest need” will end. The evidence that a policy “working” is usually related to the stated original aim. In this case, PIP isn’t a policy aimed at meeting the needs of disabled people. It’s a policy that is ultimately aimed at cutting support for ill and disabled people.

We have already witnessed a shrinking of eligibility criteria for people formerly claiming Disability Living Allowance, a marked increase in the number of reassessments required, and a limiting of the number of successful claims. Prior to the introduction of PIP, Esther McVey stated that of the initial 560,000 claimants to be reassessed by October 2015, 330,000 of these are targeted to either lose their benefit altogether or see their payments reduced.

Any “review” will therefore be framed by the original intent of the policy. However, that does not mean we should not respond to reviews and submit evidence, as a review provides us with an opportunity to flag up concerns regarding inadequacies experienced by those the policy is meant to support, too. The policy is not meant to serve the government, who are on an ideological crusade to dismantle all social security support, ultimately.

Disability benefits were originally designed to help sick and disabled people meet their needs, additional living costs and support people sufficiently to allow  a degree of dignity and independent living. You would be mistaken in thinking, however, that Personal Independent Payment was designed for that. It seems to have been designed to be the  Treasury’s ever-increasing pocket money. Or as profits for private providers who constantly assess, monitor, coerce and attempt to “incentivise” those people being systematically impoverished by the state to make “behaviour changes” by taking any low paid, insecure and poor quality work, regardless of how suitable or appropriate that is.

Apparently, that is the Conservative psychobabble “cure” for “worklessness,” which, regardless of market conditions, health, socioeconomic circumstances and poor political decision-making, is always down to an individual’s “bad behavioural choices.” The government regard work as a “health outcome.” I expect that soon, work coaches will replace doctors, and the Department for Work, health and Pensions will subsume the NHS.

For what it’s worth, Paul Gray will use evidence from the second review to inform his report to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The second review will be laid before Parliament by April 2017.

Individuals and organisations are invited to submit evidence to help inform the review by answering the following questions. Where the Department for Work and Pensions use the word “condition” in these questions they mean disabilities, health conditions and impairments. They use “condition” for short.

Your responses can only be taken into account if you press submit at the end of the survey form, if you send a submission using that method.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 16 September 2016.

Your privacy
The note on privacy: “By providing personal information for the purposes of this call for evidence, it is understood that you consent to its disclosure and publication. If you want the information in your response to be confidential, please explain why and we will endeavour to do so. However we cannot guarantee to do this.”


Ways to respond

Respond online


Email: pip.independentreview@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Write to:
PIP Independent Review Team
                 Department for Work and Pensions                  
                 Floor 4  
                 Caxton House 
                 Tothill Street 
                 SW1H 9NA


“Consideration of the ability of a claimant to carry out an activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period is key to the PIP assessment. We recognise that these ‘reliability criteria’ and the rules setting out how fluctuating conditions should be considered are an important protection for claimants, and these are enshrined in legislation” – Government’s second response to the first Independent Review of the Personal Independence Payment Assessment

Consultation as government seek to limit disabled people’s eligibility for Personal Independence Payment

Request For Evidence – PIP: mobility Criterion

PIP and the Tory monolgue