• Phil Austen-Jones

Alleged abuse? Just ask the abuser if everything is ok

In this blog post, I am turning my attention to Hampshire County Council, to whom I reported West Hampshire CCG for organisational and psychological abuse of my wife following all the lies, misinformation, refusal to answer questions, failure to follow policy, national guidelines and the law, and altering the outcome of a review without consent to process sensitive information.


According to the NHS England’s “Safeguarding Adults”, all NHS staff have a duty of care.


“Duty of care can be said to have reasonably been met where an objective group of professional [sic]considers:

· All reasonable steps have been taken

· Reliable assessment methods have been used

· Information has been collated and thoroughly evaluated

· Decisions are recorded, communicated and thoroughly evaluated

· Policies and procedures have been followed

· Practitioners and managers seek to ascertain the facts and are proactive.”


To provide context to this blog post, if you reported someone for domestic or sexual abuse, you would rightly expect social services to challenge any assertions made by both parties. You certainly wouldn’t expect social services to contact the alleged abuser, ask a few basic questions and assume the responses to be fact and happily close the case.


Step forward Hampshire County Council.


I raised my concerns on 24 May 2018 claiming that the actions of the CCG were putting my wife at life-threatening risk. Considering the unlawful actions to date, if they continued to a Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting, care would be removed within a month. Whilst we could appeal, that could take years. In the meantime, bankruptcy or death would be the likely outcome.


The response came back on 5 June 2018 that the case did not meet ‘Section 42’ for investigation. This means that Hampshire County Council did not believe that there was reasonable cause to suspect that all of the following three criteria were met.

· Has needs for care and support

· Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and

· As a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against abuse.


Now let’s think about this.

· It is medically evidenced by multiple experts that my wife has care needs.

· We alleged RISK of abuse. Unlawful actions were happening. If they continued, the life-saving care could have been removed. Never mind the emotional harm which was real, already occurring and is evidenced.

· We had tried everything with West Hampshire CCG but we were powerless as they were refusing to answer basic yet crucial questions into the failings.


But Hampshire County Council did say, “However we are concerned to hear what has been happening, and Mrs Austen –Jones allocated Case Worker, will be working with the Continuing Healthcare Team, to establish, why communication has broken down, and to ask the team to investigate your complaint, and to aid in trying to resolve the current issues.”


Whilst there was a vague update from West Hampshire CCG to Hampshire County Council in July 2018, we once again had to inform them that the response was further evidence of the misinformation and unlawful actions. Furthermore, West Hampshire CCG were supposed to get back to Hampshire County Council regarding my complaint. I am sure that you can guess that West Hampshire CCG did not.


On 7 November 2018, Hampshire County Council closed the case with West Hampshire CCG doing nothing to evidence the appropriateness of their actions or responding to the complaint issues. I raised a complaint to Hampshire County Council.


This is where it gets truly disgusting.


Hampshire County Council still wanted to close the case but felt that they should at least get a statement from West Hampshire CCG. “…in order to satisfy the local authorities duties relating to safeguarding under s.42 of the care act please can WHCCG provide assurance that following the review and reduction in care and support provided by the Continuing Healthcare team (funded by WHCCG), that these actions will not place Mrs R A-J at risk of harm or neglect.”


Point 1 – So they are still considering this under Section 42 which means in theory there was a concern about potential harm.

Point 2 – They still do not understand the issue. We had not said care had been removed. We said it was at risk of being removed if West Hampshire CCG continued behaving the way that they had been doing.

Point 3 – No questions relating to any of the failings that we had alleged or the impact on mental health.

Point 4 – Just wait for the reaction from Hampshire County Council to West Hampshire CCG’s response.


Key statements from West Hampshire CCG’s response


“R-AJ[sic] was last reviewed on 08/01/2018. At that review, as at previous review, it was identified that she may no longer be eligible for CHC funding and that the package of care required right sizing. The family sent a series of complaint letters that the CCG responded to. We also held a meeting with the family”


“The CCG have not made any changes to the care package. We agreed to gather detailed evidence on the needs for a six month period and then carry out a review Decision Support Tool (DST) to determine if R-AJ [sic] remains eligible for CHC or not. This review DST is due to take place this month, although we have not yet been in touch with the family about setting a date. Carrying out a review DST in these circumstances is fully compliant with the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare.”


Considering my previous blogs posts, it is fair to say that this statement is full of nonsense. What is more, there is no mention of the processes that they have followed except for claiming, without evidence, that their actions were in line with the National Framework. No mention of the lies, misinformation, refusal to answer questions, failure to follow policy, national guidelines and the law, and altering the outcome of a review without consent to process sensitive information.


So how did Hampshire County Council respond to this highly misleading email?


“Thank you for your swift reply and for providing such a detailed response. We are happy with the CCG’s approach.”


Please note, Hampshire County Council never asked us for evidence of our claims.


Through persistence, we managed to have a meeting with the District Service Manager for Adults’ Health and Care for Hampshire County Council in January 2019. Despite presenting irrefutable evidence, which we can prove through our recoding of the meeting, he wrote to claim that we had not provided “contradictory evidence” but “circumstantial information and opinion”. He went on to write the following:


“I believe that West Hampshire CCG has followed their process appropriately”


I have continued to liaise with Hampshire County Council, but Graham Allen, Director of Adults’ Health and Care, has refused to respond to the specific complaint regarding the above statements that Hampshire County Council is happy with the CCG’s approach, other than stating that the case did not meet Section 42.


BUT


I look forward to sharing information in the future about the internal emails at Hampshire County Council that bring this notion into serious doubt. In addition, there are other matters that need to be aired, including trying to get Hampshire County Council’s definition of organisational abuse by a CCG… I’m still waiting.


Just as a curiosity, individuals who have been directly involved in my case at West Hampshire CCG and Hampshire County Council have sat in Hampshire Safeguarding Adults Board Meetings together.


POST SCRIPT

As with posts about West Hampshire CCG, I sent this blog to Hampshire County Council in advance of publishing it. This is to provide the opportunity for a factual accuracy check. I sent it to key people involved (including Graham Allen, Director of Adult Social Care) and relevant councillors.


No response was received. I am not surprised on factual accuracy because I have the evidence to back up everything I have stated. But, this was a safeguarding concern. It appears that the leading people at Hampshire County Council believe that there is nothing wrong in their own or West Hampshire CCG's actions. No wonder there is an NHS Continuing Healthcare scandal.


If you can, please support Rear Admiral Philip Mathias' campaign for a judicial review into the NHS Continuing Healthcare Scandal - nhschcscandal.co.uk

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