Staff have been retrained, compensation paid and a family apologised to after the Isle of Wight Council admitted injustice to a boy with visual impairments and other medical conditions.
A recent ruling by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) found the council left the boy without the support he needed for months, after not clarifying a decision from a SEND tribunal.
In May 2019, a tribunal considered the boy’s education, health and care plan (EHCP) and health provision needs, including overnight respite stays, visual aids and home and school adaptations but instead of seeking clarification from the tribunal right away, the council removed the provisions and issued a final plan.
During that time, without the provision of an air conditioning unit at home in the boy’s EHCP plan, the LGSCO say his mother said by not having the provision has led to him having more seizures following his stays in respite care.
His mother told the ombudsman that lack of support for hospital visits led to the boy’s tolerance of these trips deteriorating, with some having to be abandoned. He was also putting his health at risk by refusing to attend some appointments.
It was not until 6 months after the tribunal, when the boy’s mother raised concerns, that the council contacted the tribunal for clarity on its instructions, which was too late for the judge to comment on.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s corporate scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Steve Crocker, the Island’s director of children’s services, said in this case the council had got it wrong and accepted the Ombudsman’s findings. He said:
“I have always taken the view that we will not get every single interaction correct. We deal with about 100,000 different interactions every year, some of those we will get wrong but the vast, vast majority we will get right.
“When we do go wrong, the best thing to do is not quibble but to actually take it on board and learn from it and put the actions in place.”
Mr Crocker went on to say councillors could be comforted by the fact Ofsted inspected the services in December 2019, after the issue was raised, and the inspectors found it was ‘working well systematically’. He said:
“We have taken the measures required by the LGSCO and we will continue to do that as we go forward.”
In the council’s response to the report, the authority said it accepted the recommendations although it was disappointed the watchdog did not agree with the council’s response to an earlier draft report.
Councillor Steve Hastings, chair of the scrutiny committee, said there had been an error but the council had done something about it, which was good. It had sent the report to the council’s policy and scrutiny committee for children’s services, education and skills to be discussed further.
The report will also be discussed at the council’s first cabinet meeting since the May election, with its new executive in place, next Wednesday (16th June).
A council spokesperson said the cabinet is required to look at the report to assure itself the circumstances leading to the report are not repeated.