Council ordered to pay mum who ‘took overdose after social worker made negative comments about her parenting’


Bolton Council has been ordered to pay cash to a mum who claimed she took an overdose after an ‘angry’ social worker ‘made negative comments about her parenting’.

The Local Government Ombudsman has published details of an investigation into complaints made against the council by a woman, referred to in its report as Ms X.

Ms X complained that Bolton Council failed to support her when she was having difficulty managing her teenage daughter’s challenging behaviors and says she felt forced to agree for her to be placed in care.

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The ombudsman did not find fault with the council on this aspect of the complaint but stated that the council had previously accepted fault on a matter relating to the behavior of a social worker and had apologized to Ms X.

Bolton Council has said it accepted the findings of the report and implemented the recommendations.

Central to the complaint was that Ms X remained concerned about the way she felt she had been ‘made’ by the social worker to sign an agreement, placing her child into the council’s care.

Ms X said that this aspect of the complaint was not dealt with fully in the council’s statutory complaint investigation.

The report stated: “Ms X says that she felt compelled to sign the section 20 form placing her child in care.

“It is during the signing of the form that Ms X says that the social worker raised her voice and made negative comments to her about her parenting.

“Ms X says that the social worker became angry with her.

“Ms X says she was so distressed by the comments made, and by the social worker’s attitude, that she took an overdose and was in hospital.”

The report added that the council was not able to determine what was said but the social worker accepted she had raised her voice.

In a response about the social worker’s behaviour, the council acknowledged that ‘practice did not meet expectations’.

The ombudsman ordered Bolton Council to pay a cash sum to the woman

The report said: “The council has apologized to Ms X for this.

“The council said it was not agreed that the social worker would apologise personally but the director of children services apologized to Ms X on behalf of the department.”

The ombudsman also found fault that ‘there were delays in dealing with her complaint and it is recognized that there were some other faults, particularly in relation to the inaccuracies in the assessments and minutes of important meetings’.

In its findings. the Ombudsman recommended a payment of £250 be paid to Ms X to support the apologies already provided.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “While these events took place some four years ago, Bolton Council has accepted the findings regarding the complaints that were upheld in the Ombudsman’s report into the social work support offered to the family at that time.

“As a learning organisation, Bolton’s Children’s Services has already implemented the recommendations outlined in the report in order to improve the quality of support offered to families.

“This includes the implementation of the Bolton Family Framework of social work practice that will support more consistent and family focused social work interventions.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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