Health board launches external review following bullying claims made by parents of disabled children in Swansea

  • Report by Swansea Correspondent Dean Thomas-Welch

Families of disabled children in Swansea have spoken exclusively to ITV News about alleged bullying and harassment they claim they have faced at the hands of their local health board. 

An investigation by ITV Cymru Wales has found an external review is underway at Swansea Bay University Health Board looking into the care and conduct of their Children's Community Nursing team, following the allegations.

The health board said it has become aware of “a small number of families” who have complaints about some aspects of the care provided. 

Some of those families have spoken exclusively to ITV Cymru Wales and claimed how nurses sent police officers to their homes, made anonymous referrals to social services and wrongly removed care as punishment for making complaints.

Robert Channon from Swansea said his family suffered from a “campaign of bullying” after they made complaints about the lack of care for their disabled son Gethin.

Robert told ITV News he believes him and his wife were the subject of a bogus risk assessment from bosses at the Children's Community Nursing team that resulted in their son's care being temporarily removed.

He also claims an anonymous referral was made to social services claiming they had given prescription drugs to a family pet. He also alleges police officers were sent to their home after he posted complaints about Gethins care on social media.

Robert said him and his family felt like an "inconvenience" whenever they made a complaint

He told ITV News, “I think we were an inconvenience for them. I think they didn't like the fact that we complained about them and as a result of that they attempted to devastate our lives - and to some degree they achieved that.”

“We were accused of harassment. Every time the police got involved the police took no action. The police confirmed there was nothing criminal in our complaints, we are entitled to fight for the care we needed for our son”, he said. 

“Every time there’s a knock at the door, and we are not expecting a delivery or a nurse to turn up, I am always worried it is the police, once again, being sent to our house.”

Clare and her son Luke

Clare Lucignoli from Swansea said she contracted Covid-19 in December last year along with her disabled son Luke. 

Clare claims her son's care was also removed temporarily and she was threatened with legal action if she did not agree to her son being re-homed in a flat with a new carer. 

She told ITV News, “To be told, ‘We are going to contact solicitors, we are going to have to discuss this with our legal team’ -  that’s bullying. 

"Luke's learning age is that of a toddler, and he’s not very well. We shouldn’t be separated and we should have had the care put in place at home.”

The health board confirmed to ITV Wales that an external review had been launched

ITV Cymru Wales put all the families' claim to Swansea Bay University Health Board. 

In a statement, the health board said, "The care of children with ongoing needs is very important to us." It said it is carrying out an external review of children's continuing healthcare services "to see if there are any aspects which can be improved further."

“We do our best to offer high quality individualised packages of care to meet their needs.

“The majority of families we support are very happy with the care provided to their child, and our staff have a positive ongoing relationship with parents and children.

“Unfortunately, we have become aware of a small number of families who have complaints about some aspects of the care provided.

“While we cannot comment on individual cases, we can confirm that we are carrying out a review of children’s continuing healthcare services to see if there are any aspects which can be improved further. In the interests of fairness and transparency, we have commissioned this as an external review.

“As part of this review, families are being asked to give their views on the services provided to their children. While this review is underway, we are not in a position to comment further.”