LGO – a waste of time and money

The Ombudsman (LGO) similar to all authorities, are very good at promoting their policies on fairness and efficiency. It is easy to publicize good standards, not so good to actually sustain what they publicize.
On the LGO website about “Complaining about us”, amongst many of their obligations, they write “We are committed to responding properly to your complaint”; needless to say that they have still not acknowledged or replied (a fortnight later) to my letter of 21.01.2014.
BMG Research (0800 358 0337), only three weeks ago conducted a survey with the view to “Understanding peoples’ perceptions and experiences is very important to the Local Government Ombudsman. It will help us to develop our services for the future…” (?)
Glad that they wish to improve their services but I feel that my letter to them is self-explanatory and there is still a massive gap regarding fairness and what resembles their disposition to corruption.

Hereunder is the full letter.

Recorded delivery

Commission For Local Administration (Ombudsman)
2 The Oaks
Westwood Way
Westwood Business Park
21st January 2014

– Case ID – 13001xxx

Dear Sirs,

Following is a series of complaints that I raised throughout the previous year to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) concerning a series of incidents of maltreatment and inappropriate care that my 92-year old mother encountered at Ealing Council Social Services. The process of the investigation of complaints by the LGO regarding the matter has been ongoing since November, 2012; and I have yet to see any constructive results. I have become increasingly frustrated by the assistance, or lack thereof, that the LGO has offered to date.

After I initially approached the LGO back in 2012, a few weeks later, after multiple discussions with your offices, I received the following email from Mr. Hobley:

• 31.Jan., 2013 – Mr Hobley wrote: “When we consider that the Council has finished its complaints process. I would be grateful if you did not keep emailing us with more information”.

Ealing Council has, to date, never addressed any of my complaints. I found the email from Mr. Hobley off-putting due to the “we will contact you, don’t contact us” tone that was taken, since the reason given was to let the pertinent council finish their own complaint process first, even though the Council has ignored deadlines without the provision of any results. I then decided to approach Dr. Martin.

• 13.Feb., 2013 – A letter and additional documentation was sent via special delivery to Dr Jane Martin, receiving of both has not yet been acknowledged.

After a few months of silence following the delivery, I received a telephone call, by the end of May 2013, from Ms. Jane Smith, an investigator from the LGO. She sounded positive, and appeared to be dedicated towards the resolution of my case. Eight months of exchange of information through emails followed since the initial phone call from Ms. Smith without progress on my case; as can be observed from the correspondence I received from her.

• 31.May, 2013 – I will be in touch as soon as I have any news. As I explained before, this will probably be in approximately 4-6 weeks.
• 12.July, 2013 – I hope to come to a provisional view on your complaint soon.
• 23.July, 2013 – I will do my best to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible. You will no doubt appreciate that there is a lot of information for me to consider.
• 02.Sept., 2013 – Thank you for keeping me up to date. I hope to be able to send you my provisional view in the next two or three weeks.
• 17.Sept., 2013 – I am unable to let you have my provisional view yet. I am now on leave for two weeks and expect to continue work on this once I return
• 05.Nov., 2013 – It is difficult to anticipate how long this will take but I hope it will be done in less than three weeks.
• 15.Jan., 2014 – I have asked for some legal advice and should be in a position to issue my provisional view. Our legal advisers have 28 days to respond.

The last email, as per the norm that I have been observing over the period of the last 2 years, arrived after reticence of nearly two months. In addition to giving yet another deadline of 28 days, the email only addresses the issue of the provision of payments, while completely ignoring the maladministration and subpar service quality that my mother had to put against at Ealing Council.

The list of failures include, that I have requested the LGO to investigate, as has been mentioned on previous occasions but to no avail, the following offences:
• Incorrect action and/or failure to take any action
• Failure to follow procedures or the law
• Failure to provide information
• Failure to investigate
• Failure to reply
• Misleading or inaccurate statements
• Inadequate liaison
• Inadequate consultation
• Unfulfilled promises

While an initial response was expected from Ms. Smith not later than mid-July 2013, eight months later we have yet another deadline of an extra 28 days.

This raises significant questions on the procedural impropriety that seems apparent on observation of the LGO’s responses over the last two years regarding the case in question.

I have been trying to resolve my mother’s care since April 2012. During this time, I have repeatedly been stonewalled over a period of 21 months. After such a long time, I am unsure of what to make of the situation and the reasons for the prolonged delay and lack of constructive response. The matter of the fact is, despite seven clear occasions on which Ms. Smith expressed her intention to consider the case and come up with a decision, we still have a general failure of the consultation.

The Ealing Council have had, undoubtedly, a lot to say about their vision of fairness and competency on the matter when contacted; but the fact remains that, despite a number of promises, they consistently failed to provide any positive outcomes from deadlines.

The point is not to blame any specific entity. I am simply seeking an efficient flow of proceedings regarding my case, since the whole case with the LGO started back in November 2012 and any action has yet to be taken. I implore you to assist me in the resolution of this matter and help put the dispute to rest; almost two years have passed since it began.

Yours Faithfully

A B M Procaccini