LADO Decisions and Doctors
The Impact of Adverse LADO Decisions on Doctors’ Careers
The Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) has statutory responsibilities to protect children and young people within their local communities from those who work with them, such as doctors, teachers, social workers, youth workers, childcare staff, volunteers, who could or have caused children and young people harm.
In short the remit of the LADO is to identify those professionals or lay people who have:
(a) acted in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child or young person at home, in their community or in the professional’s care;
b) may have committed a criminal offence against or related to a child or young person;
c) behaved towards a child/ren or young people in a manner that suggests s/he is unsuitable to work with children and young people.
The LADO convenes meetings with representatives from a number of organisations, including: local authorities, police, hospital managers, social workers, teachers, and others. A decision is made on the papers, which may lead to factual findings and consequential restrictions being imposed without an effective way to challenge or influence that outcome. A public authority is susceptible to judicial review in some circumstances.
Employers of doctors are likely to take the decision of LADO and take action against a doctor to restrict them from working with children for a period of time or for along period of time.
For most doctors, it is home domestic violence allegation that triggers the LADO investigation. Where violence has be directed at children, that evidence will lead to consequences for the doctor. Where violence has been directed at another adult, in the presence or close to children and young people, concerns could also lead to action. Where a spouse of a doctor is seen as being unable to prevent their children from witnessing or being subjected to violence, the LADO will also act.
This can have a profound and long-reaching impact on a doctor’s ability to work without restrictions or at all in some instances. Employers will take disciplinary action against doctors, excluding them while the investigation proceeds, or by imposing restrictions on their role and duties for a while.
Challenging a LADO Outcome / Decision
There is a complaints procedure to challenge LADO panel decisions, and once that process is exhausted one can complain to the ombusdman for local government. In some instances, a doctor would need to bring judicial review proceedings, which must be lodged within three months of a decision. The time limits are strict and there is a pre-action protocol to comply with.
At Doctors Defence Service we advise doctors on matters relating to LADO investigations and decisions. Call us on 0800 10 88 739