Family Instruct Lawyers To Secure Specialist Care Package While Her Mum Recovers From Childbirth
A council has agreed to put in place a care plan for a disabled child with complex needs while her mother is in hospital and recovers from giving birth, following a successful legal challenge.
The mum from Wolverhampton, applied to City of Wolverhampton Council for a care package for her seven-year-old daughter, who is disabled and requires specialist care. The care is to cover mum’s stay in hospital and subsequent recovery after giving birth.
As her daughter’s primary carer, she will be unable to perform her usual role for the six weeks she is expected to need recovering from a caesarean section. Despite asking the council for support for many months, the package initially offered was considered inadequate, as it did not cover the full recovery period and would leave their daughter’s key need for 2:1 care unmet.
The family, who cannot be named for legal reasons, instructed specialist public law and human rights lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to challenge the care decision made by the council.
The mum said the initial care offers would not cover the full six weeks she would be recovering from a caesarean section and would not meet her daughter’s complex needs or keep her safe.
Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell wrote to the council, urging it to reconsider the care package offered or potentially face judicial review in the High Court. Proceedings were issued and an interim relief order was granted. Following a further hearing on 8 December, the family were granted 2:1 overnight care for their daughter.
The family has welcomed the latest care decision, while lawyers say the case will give hope to other families struggling to secure appropriate levels of care for children living with disabilities.
Expert Opinion“The news that City of Wolverhampton Council will now put the necessary 2:1 care in place for this little girl is a victory both for her and her family.
“Mum is the sole carer and that she should need to go to court to ensure her daughter’s care and safety for just a few weeks while she recovers from childbirth, will be shocking to many people.
“By not putting comprehensive care in place from the start, the council was failing in its legal duty to meet the girl’s needs and risking her mother’s health, at what should be a time of great joy, welcoming a new baby to the family home for Christmas.
“The family feel strongly that they were placed in an unacceptable position and were determined to challenge the council, not just for their own sake, but to ensure such a situation should never happen to other families or expectant mothers in future.
“We’re pleased that the family’s rights and needs have been recognised by the court and the girl will now receive the correct levels of care to cover mum’s maternity period.” Rebecca Chapman - Associate Solicitor
The girl suffered a brain injury at birth and now has complex needs.
Despite making the request for support months in advance, the authority only replied on 23 November, offering a five-week care package. The family felt this was inadequate on several grounds. It would not cover mum’s time spent in hospital and recovery or the minimum 12 hours of 2:1 care per night, her daughter needs.
The mum said: “The last few months should have been a happy time preparing to welcome our new baby at Christmas. Instead it’s been marked by worry over what happens to my daughter when I go into hospital to give birth and I’m not there to care for her.
“It’s been such a distressing time for me and the wider family and we’re just relieved it has been settled for now, although cutting it this fine before I enter hospital is far from ideal. No expectant mother should have to go through this and I hope that by fighting this, they never have to.
“I’m my daughter’s carer and all we were looking for was cover while I was recovering.
“A later offer from the council still expected my partner to do much of the work in the first two weeks. This at a time when he will be caring for me, and a newborn while also having work commitments.
“It’s hard to believe it could be so difficult to arrange six weeks of care when I will be caring for my daughter again when I’m fit enough to do so. A little girl’s best interests should matter more and while we’re pleased with the outcome, this situation shouldn’t have happened.
“Hopefully now we can focus on welcoming our new baby and ensuring that my daughter has the best quality of care she can until I’m back on my feet.”