Sheffield NHS trust and council pay £27 000 in damages after failing to agree patient’s care budget

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 01 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2949
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1The BMJ

A vulnerable woman who had both legs amputated and was left for more than 14 months without funds to pay for her care package because of a dispute between the NHS and social services is to receive £27 000 in compensation.1 2

The parliamentary and health service ombudsman and the local government ombudsman jointly recommended that Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health trust, pay compensation to the unnamed woman, referred to as “Ms D.”

Ms D, who has moderate to severe depression, myeloproliferative disorder, atherosclerosis, and an underactive thyroid, had an annual personal budget of nearly £7000, funded by the NHS, to meet the social care needs arising from her mental health problems.

In February 2013 she was admitted to hospital as an emergency and had to have both legs amputated above the knee. Her personal budget continued on an interim basis, and the council paid for agency care to help meet her personal needs, with Ms D paying a contribution.

A new assessment was carried out in October 2013, which recommended joint funding by the mental health trust and the council. But by 31 December 2013, when her budget from the NHS ended, the new joint funding had still not been agreed.

She was told that the professionals thought that her needs were now largely related to her physical disability and that her funding should come from the council’s adult social care. She complained to the trust, which recommended in March 2014 that her needs be reconsidered immediately, taking into account that she had previously been assessed as having care needs as a result of her mental health problems.

But the dispute continued, with no budget for her mental health needs in place, and she complained to the local government ombudsman in July 2014. In October the trust told her that a mental health panel had decided that her mental health needs did not meet the criteria for support.

The two ombudsmen wrote to the council and the trust in December 2014 to voice their concerns about the failure to agree a budget. As a result of their intervention, funding was eventually put in place in March 2015.

The trust and the city council both accepted the ombudsmen’s recommendation to pay Ms D £14 000 for the costs that she incurred in buying support from her savings; £12 000 to acknowledge the effect on her of not having a budget in place; and £1 000 for “the avoidable stress and frustration, and her justifiable outrage, from having to continue to pursue her complaint.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2949


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