Council mistakes left woman with learning difficulties in hospital for 10 years

A string of council failures caused a woman with severe learning
difficulties to spend 10 years in hospital unnecessarily, a local
government ombudsman has ruled, writes Amy

The ombudsman recommended Wakefield Council pay the woman’s aunt
£20,000 compensation after upholding her complaint that it
failed to find her niece suitable accommodation, and did not keep
her informed and involved in decisions about her care.

The woman initially went to hospital for six months in 1990 for
a trial of medication, but eventually spent 10 years in the
hospital. The ombudsman found the council guilty of
“maladministration causing injustice” to both the woman and her

Her mother died in 1991, and there was no evidence on the local
authority’s files of any contact between the father and his

David Congdon, head of external relations at learning disability
charity Mencap, said the case was “totally unacceptable”. “We would
have expected this to be history. It should not occur due to care
in the community, and the recognition that people with learning
difficulties do not need to stay in hospital,” he added.

Wakefield Council’s head of legal and democratic services
Jacqueline Pepperell said: “We will now be considering this report
in detail, and will be reporting back to the ombudsman on the
action we are taking or proposing to take.”

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