County council told to 'put things right' after Northamptonshire man foots £17,000 bill to cover gaps in care

Northamptonshire County Council says they will challenge the ombudsman's recommendations.
Northamptonshire County Council says they will challenge the ombudsman's recommendations.

Northamptonshire County Council has been scolded and told to "accept its faults" after a man was forced to pay more than £17,000 in private care costs for services he should have received from the local authority.

An investigation by the Ombudsman found the man was asked to choose which of his care needs the council should meet.

But the complaints body has reminded the county council they have a duty to meet all service users' eligible needs, and has ordered them to "put things right"

However, the council says it will challenge the Ombudsman's recommendations to foot the £17,000 bill.

The investigation found the council’s assessment of a man, who is profoundly deaf, suffers from sleep apnoea, anxiety and has other mental health needs, indicated he required both day and night-time support.

However, the council only provided the man with night-time care and advised him if he wanted support during the day, it would reduce the care he received at night.

The council initially accepted there had been fault with the way it had treated the man and his family, but withdrew its acceptance four months later.

Local Government and social care Ombudsman Michael King said: "People should not be put in the position of having to pick and choose which areas of their life are supported and which neglected.

"It’s not an option to prioritise support and discard any that do not suit the council.

"In this case, I am particularly disappointed Northamptonshire council has reneged on its acceptance of fault, and left the family without support for so much longer."

The man and his family have had to pay for private daytime support – at a cost of more than £17,000 - because the council did not fund his daytime care. The council has been asked to refund the bill.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “In the interests of balancing the provision of quality services against ensuring taxpayers’ money is spent correctly, we are challenging a number of aspects of the ombudsman’s recommendations. This includes issues around the private care purchased by the service user, which was an informal care arrangement and for which he has been unable to adequately evidence this expenditure.

“That said, we are committed to working with the service user and his family to ensure that an up-to-date assessment of his needs can take place and that these assessed needs are met in accordance with our eligibility criteria for services.”