Ombudsman Warns of Systematic Failings Behind Care Complaint Cases

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s latest annual report on complaints about adult social care has shown a sharp rise the numbers of complaints about charging both being made and being upheld.

Despite the overall number of complaints brought before the LGSCO rising by only 1 per cent in the last 12 months to 3,016, the numbers that concerned charges rose by 9 per cent.

Moreover, the proportion of charging complaints that wereupheld reached 67 per cent in 2018 – compared to 62 per cent for all social care complaints (and 57 per cent for all complaints presented to the LGSCO).

And Ombudsman Michael King warned that there is evidence of growing systematic problems being behind the trends. He said: “The issues we see demonstrate a shift from one-off mistakes to problems with whole systems and policies, or procedures being incorrectly applied.”

Mr King acknowledged the constraints many local authorities and providers are under, and stressed: “We know authorities are operating under an enormous amount of pressure and financial challenge to deliver care services. The stark reality of this is now playing out in the complaints we see.”

Responding to the LGSCO report, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Andrea Sutcliffe emphasised that most care providers do a good job.

“CQC sees regular evidence of this in the four fifths of adult social care services currently rated as good or outstanding across the country, but as this report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman once again highlights, this isn’t the case for everyone,” she stated.

However, the Daily Express newspaper has pointed out this week that 247, or 38%, of the 638 inspections published by the CQC in November had rated providers as “inadequate” or “requiring improvement”.

The Ombudsman report also found that in the 274 cases where it made recommendations to local authorities or care providers to improve processes or staff training (an increase of 19 per cent on the previous year), there was one instance where the recommendations were not complied with.

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