Woman banned from sister visits after false theft claim

Four public bodies have been fined and asked to apologise to a woman who was falsely accused of stealing money from her sister's bank account.

The woman, known as Mrs S, was also alleged to have emotionally abused her sister, Ms P, a resident of a care home in Essex.

Mrs S was prevented from seeing Ms P for over a year and feared her sister would think she "just abandoned her".

An ombudsman's report said the ordeal had "destroyed" their relationship.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) investigated the roles played by North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Essex and Suffolk County Councils.

'Distress caused'

Mrs S was told not to contact her sister or members of staff at the care home in October 2010.

The restrictions were lifted by December 2011, but the ombudsman report said Mrs S was still "too worried" to visit in case there were further allegations against her.

The ombudsman review found that although attempts to safeguard the patient were "well intentioned", a "catalogue of failures" from the four bodies prevented the incident being resolved quickly.

Julie Mellor, PHSO, said: "Investigating abuse allegations quickly can avoid distress and prevent family relationships from breaking down."

North Essex Partnership Trust and Essex County Council were told to apologise and jointly pay £1,000 for "the distress caused".

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Suffolk County Council were told to pay £250 jointly for the distress caused, and a further £250 for their "poor complaint handling".

All four bodies told the BBC they were sorry for the distress caused to the family.

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