Vulnerable Man 'Had No Bathing Facilities'

A Vulnerable Man In Plymouth Was 'Let Down' By Care Providers


A vulnerable man in Plymouth was left without bathing facilities for six months because care providers failed to monitor him, it has emerged.

The Health Service Ombudsman and Local Government Ombudsman concluded there had been a catalogue of errors involved in the care of the 31-year-old man, who has not been named and is understood to have Asperger syndrome and schizophrenia, according to the BBC.

Media reports indicate the man was discharged from a psychiatric unit in 2004 into the care of Plymouth Council and the NHS Plymouth Primary Care Trust, but was often left without the proper monitoring that would normally be expected in this type of case.

At one point, the man was wrongly charged £8,000 for accommodation, even though he did not have bathing facilities for a six month period.

"This vulnerable man was left suffering and was out of pocket by thousands of pounds because no-one took responsibility for coordinating his care properly," said Julie Mellor, parliamentary and health service ombudsman.

"The NHS has a duty to care for people with a mental health problem which doesn't stop when that person leaves a psychiatric unit or when a service is outsourced."

A report into the 31-year-old man's care found that he was given too much financial free reign and opened a bank account that accrued an overdraft.

It was also discovered that he would often have to spend weekends away from his flat with his parents to "get respite from the poor standard of accommodation."

Plymouth Council and NHS Plymouth Primary Care Trust, now called the New Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, have been asked to pay the man £12,000 for the poor quality of life he has experienced under their care.

A joint statement from the two authorities included an apology to the man.

Representatives from both bodies also promised to develop an action plan to make sure similar cases do not happen again.

Expert Opinion
This is a shocking case and it is simply unacceptable for a man to be left without access to simple care and hygiene facilities.

“The NHS has a duty to monitor vulnerable members of society and ensure their specific care needs are met.

“Mental health patients should be supported to live in society as independently as possible but should not be left to fend for themselves.

“We hope that lessons have been learnt from this case to protect future patient safety and prevent anyone else from going through a similar ordeal.”
Julie Lewis, Partner