The aborted Stage 2 complaint emails between the 'independent investigator' and Cyngor Gwynedd's safeguarding and quality officer were passed to the Ombudsman for his information. They included input from the Monitoring Officer and also ahowed this 'investigator' sending correspondence to someone not involved in the complaints process...
of the unreasonable demands imposed by the council officer, the
complaint did not proceed and was timed out by the council. After
reading the emails, the Ombudsman returned with an offer of a complaint
without enduring further officer bad behaviour. But trust in the Ombudsman was now on the wane.
Evidence of wrongdoing by senior officers - from an officer leaving the council during one investigation then rejoining once interviews were completed through behaviour by officers that many have thought abusive. There was the council's Information manager's data breach report - written in spite of the evidence, the creation of documents that should not exist and legal documents written not to inform but mislead. All not investigated...
forgetting, the Ombudsman was warned that the council's SS officers may
treat the second assessment - and the family - with the same
disingenuity as the first - and they did...
It was pointed out to the Ombudsman that Gwynedd council have not complied with other recommendations from past investigations and that if they had been called to account previously then further investigations would not have been needed. The Ombudsman did not respond to this point.
A FOI request was put in asking for the compliance correspondence between the Ombudsman and Gwynedd council regarding Case 201700388 and later in the family's own case. Whilst the Ombudsman's Information office released the correspondence for someone else's investigation showing the council admitting non compliance, the FOI for emails from the family's own case was refused. Even more evidence of non compliance...?
now, the family's perception was that the Ombudsman appeared unwilling
or unable to deal with the serious issues the evidence had revealed.
Regardless, the offer of a third Ombudsman's investigation into the SS
second assessment which should have already been investigated by the
Ombudsman was accepted.
A home visit was arranged to discuss and take further evidence against Gwynedd council. Home visits from the Ombudsman are not usual...
Shortly after, the senior safeguarding officer used a Care Scrutiny Committee
on the 14/11/19 to declare the Ombudsman had -
"given them a further challenge, to make sure that someone goes to see the family, meet the family, ensure that they receive that assessment and that is something that we have now arranged with the adult services, to go into that situation on the Ombudsman's behalf, despite the fact that they have not expressed a wish to receive the service, our usual ethos involves intervention but only if the person invites us in and wishes for us to intervene in this way, the Ombudsman has judged this and wants us to go no matter what the wish of the individual may be, so that is now our response to that challenge provided by the Ombudsman."
The Ombudsman was contacted and denied the words of the officer...
But what of the language used to Councillors and the public - 'challenge' and 'intervention' and 'ethos' are such strong words to use when all that was required was a simple carer's assessment...
Gwynedd council had used the excuse that they did not understand the wording in one Ombudsman report. The recommendation that Executive officers and presumably the council's legal team had already agreed to but now clearly misunderstood was -
“Provides Mr Y and his family with a comprehensive assessment of their needs and ensures that adequate measures are put in place to meet any identified needs."
Hardly a complex sentence. Bizarrely, the
Ombudsman accepted this excuse and presumably another box was ticked instead of
following policy and procedures which could have resulted in an
Ombudsman's Special Report into continued non compliance.
The Ombudsman also introduced the word 'variance' into the dialogue and it appears that recommendations for improvement can be downgraded once an investigation has been completed in a deal done between the Ombudsman and the CEO behind closed doors - without the complainants knowledge...
All this while attempting to come to agreement with the 'remit' for the third investigation.
Having investigated several complaints into Gwynedd council during his incumbancy, the Ombudsman was well aware of the disingenuous nature of the senior officers and their treatment of the disabled. Gwynedd council even featured in the Ombudsman's hall of shame casebook which can be found here -
The full Ombudsman's report for case 201700388 can be found here -