Ms B complained that Hywel Dda University Health Board (“the Health Board”) failed to provide appropriate care to her son, Mr C. Specifically, Ms B complained that the Health Board failed to provide Mr C with appropriate psychology services and as a result failed to meet his clinical needs.

The Ombudsman upheld Ms B’s complaint. He found 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. He found that Ms B, as Mr C’s main carer, was left without sufficient support to manage his challenging behaviours. This was at a time when Mr C’s challenging behaviours were further complicated by the impact of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 lockdown. He 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.

The Ombudsman found that the Health Board’s communication with Ms B was inadequate which left her uninformed at the time of the COVID-19 lockdown when she was struggling to cope with Mr C’s challenging behaviours. He also found that the Health Board’s complaint responses to Ms B were inadequate and were not in line with the relevant regulations.

The Ombudsman recommended that the Health Board:

a) Provide Ms B with a written apology for the clinical, communication and complaint handling failings identified in his report. This apology should refer to the impact of the failings on both Mr C and his family.

b) Remind the relevant staff of the importance of investigating complaints and producing complaint responses in line with relevant complaint regulations and guidance.

c) 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.

d) Commissions and completes its planned review of the Health Board’s child psychology services and reports the findings back to the Ombudsman.