BOURNEMOUTH council has agreed to pay £13,500 in compensation after a boy was unnecessarily institutionalised in a psychiatric hospital for five years.

The child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was supposed to stay in hospital for just 12 weeks while council and health professionals agreed a care package for him.

But he ended up living there from September 1999 to June 2004, missing two and a half years of school and losing his independence.

After spending three years reviewing the complaint, the council has agreed to pay £7,500 in compensation to the boy, now an adult, and £6,000 to his mother.

The case has only just come to light, thanks to the Local Government Ombudsman's annual letter to the council.

The report points to a number of key failings: "The health authority was also involved but there was poor communication, poor liaison, lack of multi-agency working, lack of management direction and delay in agreeing the funding by the council, all of which contributed to the excessive stay in hospital."

As well as having a devastating effect on the boy, the report says his mother also suffered badly. "The complainant spent an immense amount of time and energy trying to support her son and resolve the situation," it states.

"She suffered from periods of depression and exhaustion and became totally frustrated by the lack of a solution."

Ann Graham, head of childcare and family support at Bournemouth council, said measures put in place since 1999 meant she was "confident" this scenario would not arise again.

"We have the Every Child Matters legislation that supports that, we have an improved Local Safeguarding Children board and we have mechanisms that ensures that the voices of children and young people are heard more now than they ever were in 1999," she said.

"The relationship and networks amongst professionals is sound and robust and we alert each other much sooner to anything that goes wrong.

"The issues that arose in this case I am quite confident would not happen to the same degree now. It's a different working environment now."