Woman left housebound after having legs amputated receives compensation following blunder that led to benefit money being withheld

A dispute between how much money the woman should receive meant she was left without appropriate financial support for 14 months

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The Independent Online

A woman who was left housebound following the amputation of both legs has received £27,000 in compensation after watchdogs found financial support was withheld due to an administrative battle between a council and the NHS.

Before her life-changing surgery, the woman received a personal budget from the NHS of £7,000 a year to help her meet the costs of managing her severe depression. She then had both legs amputated following a blood disorder and problems with her vascular system, at which point her benefits were reassessed.

But Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust could not agree on how much money she should receive, and the dispute left her without appropriate financial support for 14 months, and left her housebound.

During this period a clinical psychologist, a physiotherapist and a prosthetist wrote a joint letter to the council warning that the delay was having a “significant adverse impact” on the patient’s “physical and psychological wellbeing”. The letter stated that her mental health history was known to the council and that her health was at significant risk of deteriorating further if they failed to agree a new personal budget.

Her GP and her clinical psychologist also sent further letters raising concerns about the delay.

The woman complained to both the NHS trust and the council about them taking so long over the decision, but though the NHS upheld her complaint, her budget was still left undecided four months later.

A joint investigation into the case by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman resulted in the awarding of £27,000 in compensation.

Julie Mellor, the parliamentary and health ombudsman, said: “Both the council and the trust should have acted sooner to prevent the unnecessary distress experienced by this woman.”

Ms Mellor called for the creation of a single ombudsman for all public services in England, including health and social care, to make it easier for people “to get justice when things go wrong”.

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