Sheffield Council Pledges Improvement After Support Shortfall

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Sheffield City Council has vowed to address its deficiencies following its failure to provide necessary assistance to a young girl with special educational needs. The council has committed to issuing an apology and paying nearly £1,000 in response to its inability to secure speech and language therapy for the individual in question.

This development follows a ruling by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, which upheld a complaint regarding a girl with a learning difficulty, referred to as Z, who possesses an education, health, and care (EHC) plan outlining her specific needs and required support provisions, as outlined in the ombudsman’s report.

According to the report, on February 1st, 2023, Z was assured of receiving two sessions with a speech and language therapist during each half-term. However, despite an initial session on February 2nd, it was noted that Z did not receive any further speech and language therapy until November 24th of the same year, significantly deviating from the agreed-upon plan.

Upon raising concerns with Sheffield City Council regarding the shortfall in therapy sessions, it was conveyed that the responsibility lay with the local NHS service, with the council offering to forward the complaint directly to them. However, it was contested that the council was accountable for delivering the stipulated support, as per Z’s plan.

Despite the council’s efforts to chase the NHS service regarding the provision of speech and language therapy, it was revealed that the sessions had not been conducted due to purported lack of capacity within the service, further exacerbating the situation.

In response to the persistence of the complainant and the escalating issue, the council expressed apologies for the frustration caused and proposed to escalate the matter to the ombudsman, which was subsequently done in June. However, even with continued pressure from the council, the necessary provision of therapy for Z remained elusive until November 24th, 2023, when she finally received a session.

The ombudsman’s investigation uncovered significant discrepancies, indicating that Z should have received a total of 10 therapy sessions between February 1st and November 24th, yet only two were administered. Moreover, it was determined that the council erroneously attributed responsibility for the provision to the NHS, failing in its duty to ensure Z’s access to the essential therapy outlined in her EHC plan.

Highlighting the severity of the situation, the ombudsman stressed that the council’s negligence had impeded Z’s development, particularly in communication and social skills, causing undue distress to both Z and her parent.

Consequently, within one month of the final decision, Sheffield City Council has committed to issuing a formal apology to the complainant, alongside a financial settlement of £850, with an additional £100 allocated for each missed speech and language therapy session from November 24th, 2023, extending up to three months post the final decision date.

Moreover, the council has undertaken to review its commissioning processes concerning speech and language therapy to ensure the adequate provision specified in children’s and young people’s EHC plans. This comprehensive review aims to address the systemic shortcomings and ensure the timely and effective delivery of essential services to individuals with special educational needs in Sheffield.

Lauren Redford
Lauren Redford
Journalist Lauren Redford is a seasoned business journalist who focuses on regional areas throughout the United Kingdom. With her expertise and dedication, Lauren brings insightful coverage of local communities and their economic landscapes. With a meticulous approach and a passion for storytelling, she uncovers stories that resonate with readers and offers a deeper understanding of the business world. Lauren's commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news makes her a valuable member of the News Write Ups team.

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