Patient dies after "substandard care" on Christmas Day

3 October 2017, 06:07

Generic image of hospital doctor

A report says a patient who died in hospital in North Wales had received "substandard" care.

The patient's daughter, who works for Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, complained to the Ombudsman after staff missed several opportunities to prevent her father's condition deteriorating before he died at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

He was admitted to hospital in December 2014 with a chest infection. A report in to his death says he should been transferred to a high dependency unit, but there was a delay in finding him a bed and he was not seen by a consultant until the following morning.

His condition worsened over the next 24 hours, but he was not treated, and on Christmas Day the patient suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

His daughter complained to the Health Board in 2015, but almost a year later still hadn't received an update.

It was nineteen months later that the Health Board sent their response denying that the problems had contributed to his death.

The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales has now concluded there were a number of serious failings.

Ombudsman Nick Bennett, said: "I find it extremely concerning that the Health Board refuses to admit that had they approached the patient's care differently his death could have been prevented. 

"Not only was the care substandard, I find the Health Board's comments disingenuous and indicate an unwillingness to accept the seriousness of the situation. 

"The cause of death was wrongly recorded causing even more distress to the family which is unacceptable."

"The fact that a member of its own staff, accustomed to the concerns process, found the Health Board's approach to her complaint so frustrating that she was forced to seek assistance from an advocate, does not instil confidence for members of the public".

"I urge the Health Board to learn from this case and address the serious clinical failings. By doing so I hope that patients requiring critical care will not be overlooked in the future."

Gill Harris, Executive Director of Nursing & Midwifery, said: “We are deeply sorry for the additional distress we have caused the family, at an already difficult time, by the time it has taken us to respond to these concerns.

"We apologise that we did not deliver the standard of care that we should have and for the unacceptable delay in responding to the family’s complaint.

"We are working hard to improve our concerns process to make sure we provide meaningful responses in a timely manner.

"We have taken note of all of the Ombudsman’s comments and are now implementing all the recommendations he has made."

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