AN independent investigator has dismissed an allegation that a social worker’s actions led to the death of a woman.

Warrington Borough Council received 29 adult social care services-related complaints in 2017-18.

Five were referred to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) – and maladministration, with ‘no injustice’, was found in two cases.

In one of the cases, the complainant, known only as Mr X, claimed a hospital discharge meeting for the late Mrs X was ‘poorly managed’.

Mr X said the social worker had not liaised with a health professional before the meeting and did not take into account the views of the family during the meeting.

Furthermore, he complained that, because the meeting was mismanaged, Mrs X had to remain in hospital.

Mr X alleges that this caused deterioration in her health, which ultimately ‘led to her death’.

However, the Ombudsman stated it is not possible to conclude that Mrs X’s deterioration was solely caused by her continued stay in hospital.

But the investigating officer did find fault in the way the council managed the hospital discharge meeting.

The outcome of the meeting was that the decision around Mrs X’s discharge would need to be postponed to another meeting, with this error causing a one-week delay.

However, the Ombudsman says, on the balance of probabilities, the fault cannot be linked to a ‘more lasting injustice’.

It adds even without the fault, Mrs X would not have left hospital on the day of the meeting, as the hospital would have needed to wait for a care package to be arranged before it could have discharged her.

The report says the council had already apologised to Mr X and discussed the incident with the social worker involved through supervision to ‘prevent recurrences’ and, as such, no further actions were recommended.

A council spokesman said: “Mr X’s allegations were not supported by the LGO or any other body.

“The report itself specifies that there is no clear causal link between the hospital meeting and Mrs X’s deterioration in health.”

The authority says it welcomes feedback from service users and highlighted that it receives more compliments than complaints.

The spokesman said: “Over a typical year, the council delivers or commissions tens of thousands of hours of care from a large number of care providers.

“Care is personal and requires a great deal of co-ordination to make sure it is delivered appropriately and on time.

“Out of the 29 complaints in 2017-18, maladministration was found in only two cases.

“There were 44 adult social care complaints in 2016-17 compared to 2017-18, so this represents a significant decrease in complaints.”

In addition, for children’s social work complaints, costs are incurred at stages two and three of the process due to the requirement to appoint external independent investigating officers and independent persons.

The cost totalled £0 in 2016-17, with zero investigations, but rose to £13,089 in 2017-18, with six investigations.”

The spokesman added: “The council changed its policy around how it deals with situations where complaints cannot be resolved at stage one and are escalated to stage two.

“We understand the rise in public expectation for investigations to be undertaken by completely independent parties, which has a cost implication, but we do not consider this a ‘major rise’.”

The protecting the most vulnerable policy committee has noted the annual adults and children’s social work complaints and compliments 2017-18 report.