Trust criticised over child case

THE Southern Health and Social Care Trust “failed in its duty of care” towards an allegedly sexually abused child, the NI Ombudsman has said.

Ombudsman Tom Frawley said the service given by the trust “fell short” of expectations.

Figures released on Monday revealed that overall complaints were up 23% during the first half of 2011.

The health and social care sector across the province was singled out as having more than doubled its number of complaints.

The ombudsman deals with complaints from people who claim to have suffered injustice because of maladministration by government departments, agencies and a wide range of other public bodies.

The latest figures show an increase in the number of complaints regarding health and social care from 75 to 117.

Mr Frawley said the case involving the alleged sexual abuse of a child was “all the more concerning given the nature of the allegation and the trust’s statutory responsibility to safeguard children”.

He said he had identified failings in adhering to required child protection procedures and in keeping sufficient records.

“I deemed this investigation so important that in addition to recommending a comprehensive apology and consolatory payment to the complainant (the child’s mother), I recommended that the trust share the report with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority with regard to follow up action,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: “The Trust is unable to comment on individual cases but can confirm that all recommendations made by the Ombudsman in this report have been fully implemented by the Trust.”