A vulnerable double amputee has spoken of her ‘nightmare’ after she was wrongly denied the right care for more than a year by Sheffield authorities.
Sheffield Council and Sheffield Health and Sheffield Social Care NHS Foundation Trust must pay the woman £27,000 after an investigation by two ombudsmen.
They found she was left without sufficient funds for 14 months after her legs were amputated and her personal budget of £7,000 a year for depression had to be reassessed.
While she received basic care visits, the woman was left mainly housebound, became more depressed and isolated and had to spend money on taxis to make medical or other appointments.
Her doctors wrote to the council saying the delay was having a ‘significant adverse impact’ on her wellbeing. But the authorities continued to wrangle about whether her needs were mostly physical or mental health related, how much support she should receive and which organisation would pay for it.
Today the woman – who had her legs amputated because of a blood disorder and vascular problems in February 2013 – said: “It was a nightmare. One organisation would say one thing and the other something different with me stuck in the middle.
“It’s hard enough losing both legs above the knee but to have no proper services in place compounds it, I was receiving less help than before the operation.
“Budget cuts are no excuse – I do appreciate and understand them as the majority of service users do, we are not oblivious.
“I’m fairly articulate and will speak my mind, I was concerned about those people who might not be able to – elderly frail people or those with learning difficulties.
“What the hell are they going to do in this situation?”
The woman complained to the trust and it was upheld, but she was forced to take it further as her care package was still not decided four months later.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman said the authorities should have acted sooner to prevent ‘unnecessary distress’ and they had been ‘unable to communicate’. The authorities must reimburse £14,000 costs, pay £13,000 to the woman and produce an action plan.
Moira Wilson, council interim director of adult services, and Kevan Taylor, chief executive of the mental health trust, said they accepted the findings and were ‘very sorry’. They added: “We sincerely apologise for this and the stress and anxiety this obviously caused.
“This is a very serious matter and we are working closely together to ensure lessons have been learned and to make sure people with mental and physical health needs receive a much better, joined up service.”