The Ombudsman launched an investigation after receiving a complaint by Ms B (anonymised). Ms B complained that Hywel Dda University Health Board failed to provide her son, Mr C, with appropriate psychology services and as a result failed to meet his clinical needs.

The report finds that the Health Board failed to take prompt steps and make arrangements to meet the clinical needs of Mr C following the closure of a psychology service.

Despite the Health Board identifying that Mr C’s needs were not being met, it failed to put any plan in place to meet those needs.

Consequently, the report finds that Ms B, as Mr C’s main carer, was left without sufficient support to manage his challenging behaviours. The Health Board’s communication with Ms B was inadequate, which left her uninformed at a time when Mr C’s challenging behaviours were further complicated by the impact of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

In addition, the Health Board’s complaint responses to Ms B were also inadequate and not in line with the relevant regulations.

The Ombudsman found no evidence of contingency planning should the psychology service come to an end, meaning that the Health Board and the patients receiving the psychology service were unprepared for the abrupt end.

Commenting on the report, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said:

“This is a highly concerning case where a mother felt as if “her family had been destroyed” and that she was “on the verge of putting Mr C into care because of this lack of support” by the Health Board.

“The ending of the Specialist Service left a huge gap for Ms B and all families with children with learning disabilities in the Health Board’s area. Ms B does not want other families to go through what she and her family had experienced, and I share this concern.”

The Ombudsman has made a number of recommendations including that the Health Board:

  • Provides Ms B with an apology for the clinical, communication and complaint handling failings identified in his report.
  • Reminds relevant staff of the importance of investigating complaints and producing complaint responses in line with relevant complaint regulations and guidance.
  • Undertakes a review to identify any other patients with unmet clinical needs as a result of the closure of the Specialist Service and ensures that steps are being taken to meet those needs either by the Health Board or other agencies.
  • Commissions and complete its planned review of the Health Board’s child psychology services and reports the findings back to the Ombudsman

To read the report, click here.