A Croydon resident who uses a wheelchair didn’t leave their home for “months at a time” after the council refused to move her from a flat on the third floor of an apartment block with no lift.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said Croydon Council was at fault for not properly considering health reports on the impact of a resident’s current home on her health.

The resident, known as Mrs X in the ombudsman’s report, was said to have a medical condition affecting her mobility, requiring her to use a walking stick and wheelchair.

The report said she also lived on the third floor of a building with no lift.

Mrs X reportedly asked Croydon Council to be moved out of the flat in October 2021 as she was finding it “increasingly difficult” living on the top floor of the building.

The resident asked the council for updates in December, January and February after being told its medical assessment team would look into the application.

The ombudsman said in their report: “In late February 2022, the council told Mrs X it needed more information about how her current home affected her medical condition.

"Mrs X replied to say that because of the stairs, she did not leave the house for months at a time. She relied on her grandchildren to help her.”

The resident reportedly sent the council a medical summary from her doctor in March when she was asked for more information the previous month.

After being told by the council that the summary she provided was not enough to make a decision to move her, the resident sent a report from an occupational therapist.

The report said: “Mrs X had ‘severe difficulty’ getting up and down the 28 stairs to her flat.

"Mrs X could not access the bath or shower. Even with major adaptations to the bathroom, the property would not be suitable because of the stairs.”

They added: “They recommended a move to a ground floor flat or one with a lift.

"The OT [occupational therapist] report concluded ‘failure to address the current situation may have an impact on [Mrs X’s] future health and wellbeing as she becomes increasingly house bound’.”

The council responded in August to say the resident had no housing need and would not be included on the housing register as she had not “provided sufficient” evidence that her conditions were made worse by her current accommodation.

Mrs X asked for a review of the decision that October after reportedly not receiving the council’s decision letter and asked for an update in November.

The council apologised to Mrs X in January for its delay in reviewing its decision, and that its medical advisor was “unable to recommend rehousing”.

The ombudsman said in their report that they saw “no basis” for the council’s decision, and that the authority should not simply adopt the opinion of a third-party medical assessor.

They said: “There is nothing in the council’s decision or review decision to explain why it preferred the medical advisor’s opinion to that of the OT service.

"This is particularly important when the OT had met with and assessed Mrs X in her home. I would expect the review decision to engage with the evidence and explain why the OT’s assessment did not meet the criteria for priority on the housing register.”

The report added that the council withdrew its previous decision in March to reassess Mrs X’s housing need following a complaint from her and contact from her MP.

The ombudsman criticised the council for its delay in Mrs X’s initial application to join the council’s housing register, as well as in responding to her providing medical information in April 2022.

They said these faults caused the resident “avoidable distress and uncertainty”, with some delays lasting up to three months.

The ombudsman suggested in their report that the council apologise to the resident in writing and offer £250 in recognition of the distress caused, as well as tell her the outcome of its assessment of her housing need.

They also suggested that the council provide training to staff conducting reviews of medical assessment decisions, as well as reminding staff to tell applicants if they will not be able to meet the 56-day timescale for responding to review requests.

Croydon Council was approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.