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A health authority in Northern Ireland breached its duty to carry out timely assessments and provide services to carers of disabled children, a High Court judge has declared.


Mr Justice Treacy held that more than 40 requests from families to the Western Health and Social Care Trust should have been addressed differently.

His ruling came in a case involving an autistic teenager from Co Tyrone whose psychotic tendencies and intense dislike of females led to him attempting to hang himself and threatening his younger sister in 2008.

The 14-year-old's mother, whose role as his main carer led to her having a complete breakdown, brought judicial review proceedings after being told there was no budget available to meet her assessed needs.

Mr Justice Treacy set out how the Trust had not replied to her initial request for a fresh assessment and did not respond to further correspondence.

He said: "Given the crisis situation this family faced the failure to respond to these letters was simply shameful."

A social worker who did carry out an assessment on the boy's mother - who is separated from his father - recorded that she had no family to assist her and urgently needed time out from her caring role.

A formal complaint was later lodged by her legal representatives in the Children's Law Centre over the Trust's failure to answer correspondence for a fresh assessment.

The judge also heard evidence that this was only one example of a systematic failure to conduct assessments in its area.

Commending the Children's Law Centre for bringing together a "comprehensive and compelling picture of the scope and intensity of difficulties in this field", he said it appeared that 41 families had received letters indicating a lack of current capacity to carry out carer's assessments.

Mr Justice Treacy granted three declarations sought by the mother:

•The duty on the Trust includes a duty to provide a range and level of personal social services to the children in need within its area and to the families and carers of those children in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and the upbringing of those children by their families;

•The Trust was in breach of its duty by failing to carry out an assessment on the applicant's mother as a carer of a disabled child within a reasonable time frame following her request to do so on 29 January 2009;

•The Trust acted in breach of its duty by failing to carry out assessments within a reasonable time of carers of disabled children who had requested such an assessment during the period 2007-2010.

Following his judgement, Eamonn McNally, mental health solicitor with the Children's Law Centre, said the case had the potential to impact on hundreds of people.

"We have a number of already ongoing cases of families in similar situations with either can't get an assessment carried out within a reasonable period or access to the appropriate services once those assessments are carried out," he said.

"This has been a major step forward in how families in need are treated", he added.

"It is essential within the current financial climate and with proposed cuts in health being imminent that services for children in need and their families are protected."

The mother of the autistic teenager - who now lives with his father - expressed hope that the ruling could help others.

She said: "The Trust made me feel as if I was exaggerating all our problems in order to offload my son.

"It's too late to help me because our family is split up. I just see my son a few times a week and have to make arrangements that the wee girl is not there.

"The only thing that makes it good for me is it will help other people. If it even helped one other family to not have the isolation we had it will be worthwhile."




http://www.u.tv/News/Trust-failure-shameful-in-care-case/5e6d089d-7ee0-4237-9d82-2d33b6c93fac
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#2
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Thats so sad that it came to that
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And this case really highlights how tough things can be and how the system is failing many people. Sad
Such a shame that a family can be broken like this Sad
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