The Local Government Ombudsman has issued its first-ever adverse findings notice against a private care provider.
The notice follows Personnel Service Ltd’s continued refusal to adopt recommendations made by the ombudsman over a complaint about the service it provided to the now deceased Mrs O, when the company owned Surrey home care provider Help Unlimited.
In January 2013, an investigation by the ombudsman found that Mrs O’s son had been caused injustice by service failures by Help Unlimited when destroying her care records and failing to deal with her son’s complaint effectively.
The ombudsman recommended that the provider apologises to the son, pay him £250 compensation and review its procedures so that records are destroyed in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
The company, however, did not accept the ombudsman’s recommendations arguing that it was not within the watchdog’s remit to conduct the investigation.
As a result, the ombudsman has issued an adverse findings notice criticising the provider for failing to follow the recommendations. The notice, like all Local Government Ombudsman recommendations, is not legally binding.
“This is the first time in three years that I have had to issue such a notice against a private care provider,” said ombudsman Dr Jane Martin.
“It shows just how seriously I take a provider’s failure to comply with its obligations to address complaints.”
A spokesperson for Help Unlimited’s new owners, Novus Care, who took over the business earlier this year, said: “Novus Care has taken over contracts and employees of Help Unlimited and its trading name. However, Novus has not taken on responsibility for the prior conduct by the previous owners. Personnel Services Ltd and its directors have no ongoing involvement in the running of the business.
“We at Novus have a strong track record in terms of the standard of service we provide to our service users. In relation to the newly acquired business we are investing in systems, training and recruitment to ensure that we provide a service of which we can be proud.”