Battle for information into injuries at care home

Martyn Lewis and Mark Bates SUS-170814-124202001
Martyn Lewis and Mark Bates SUS-170814-124202001

A two-year battle for ‘answers’ into how two men were seriously injured while living at a care home could end up with West Sussex County Council being in contempt of court unless it releases information within 35 days.

Martyn Lewis, the brother of one of the injured men, has been seeking replies from the county council to questions made under the Freedom Of Information Act.

Both Martyn’s brother Gary Lewis and fellow care home resident Matthew Bates suffered broken legs in separate incidents while living at Beech Lodge care home in Guildford Road, Horsham in 2015.

Both Gary, 65, and Matthew, 33, have cerebral palsy and neither has been able to walk or talk since birth and require constant care.

Beech Lodge is one of nine care homes run by Sussex Health Care which is currently at the centre of a police investigation following the deaths of 12 people.

Since discovery of their relatives’ injuries at Beech Lodge, both Martyn Lewis and Mathew’s father Mark Bates have been battling to find out exactly what happened.

West Sussex County Council failed to respond to a Freedom of Information request from Martyn Lewis for a copy of notes taken at a meeting of a review conducted by the county council’s Safeguarding Adults’ Board.

Mr Lewis complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office which has now ruled that the county council must comply within 35 days or face being in contempt of court.

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “Mr Lewis has submitted more than 25 FOIs to the county council in the last five months as well as contacting us in a whole range of other ways. “Unfortunately in one instance Mr Lewis submitted one FOI, which was declined due to exemption under FOI rules. He then appealed that decision and submitted another similar but separate FOI at the same time.

“The second FOI was put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal. When the matter was dealt with the second FOI was missed in the complexity of multiple requests from the same applicant.

“We apologise fully for that and will, of course, respond as soon as possible.We are in regular contact with Mr Lewis and will continue to deal with his questions to the best of our ability, we have now allocated him a named single point of contact to make sure he gets the service he needs from us.”