Boy, 11, may have been denied the chance to say farewell to dying mother

PUBLISHED: 13:55 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:24 01 November 2019

Norfolk County Council;s headquarters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Norfolk County Council;s headquarters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.


An 11-year-old boy in foster care was not told his mother’s life support machine was about to be switched off - even though Norfolk County Council’s family support worker knew about it the day before she died.

County councillor John Fisher. Pic: Archant Library.County councillor John Fisher. Pic: Archant Library.

The boy's foster carer told him of his biological mother's death the day after it happened in 2011, but it took four years for the youngster to discover he might have missed the chance to bid his mum farewell.

And the council's poor record keeping means he will never know why he was not told his mother was ill or whether there would have been time to visit her one last time before she died.

The boy, now an adult, complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who criticised the county council and said it had caused him "significant injustice, which will continue to affect him throughout his life".

The watchdog has published its report into the case of the young man, referred to as Mr D.

The ombudsman said "It has resulted in uncertainty for Mr D; he will never know whether he lost an opportunity to see his mother before she died."

It wasn't until 2015, where more details of Mr D's mother's death were revealed to him, that he learned the family support worker knew her life support machine was to be turned off - and he was not told.

The ombudsman criticised the council's poor record keeping - which failed to detail exactly when the support worker knew - and a lack of sensitivity.

The watchdog also criticised the way the council dealt with his complaint.

Action since taken to improve practice was welcomed, but the council was told to apologise and pay £1,200 to Mr D.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children's service at Norfolk County Council, said: "We completely accept the ombudsman's findings and are very sorry for the distress caused to Mr D.

"We have always acknowledged that we should have handled this far more sensitively and we have apologised, paid compensation and offered counselling to this young man.

"I am confident that our record keeping and practice has improved significantly since Mr D's mother died in 2011 and our support for children in and leaving our care has vastly improved."

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