Mark Whitehead 13 April 2023

Lambeth council fined £20k after child misses operation

Lambeth council fined £20k after child misses operation image
Image: William Barton / Shutterstock.com.

A young person spent three years in unnecessary pain because delays by Lambeth council meant they could not have a crucial operation, the ombudsman has ruled.

The child was in unsuitable accommodation and doctors said they could not have a key operation until their living conditions improved.

But despite being repeatedly told how unsuitable the accommodation was by the family, their school, social workers, occupational therapists, and the child’s medical team who raised safeguarding concerns, the council did not take any action.

By the time the family was finally rehoused the operation was no longer an option.

The council has agreed to apologise to the family and pay them a combined £20,000 for the time spent in unsuitable accommodation at avoidable risk of harm, pain and lack of dignity they suffered.

It has also launched a ‘wholesale external review’ of its housing service.

Nigel Ellis, local government and social care ombudsman chief executive, said: ‘This family spent three and a half years in accommodation that was quite obviously unsuitable to everyone but the council.

‘While I appreciate the family needed quite specific accommodation which would be difficult to source, we have found no evidence the council made any efforts to find anything suitable for much of the three years they were in the property were put to a significant and avoidable risk of harm over a prolonged period.

‘The council has now agreed to a wholescale external review of its housing service, which I hope will go some way to preventing situations like this from happening to other vulnerable families.’

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