NHS apologises to widow after patient left starving for up to two weeks

The SPSO instructed the Ayrshire and Arran NHS board to apologise to the spouse of a late patient, referred to as C to protect their anonymity.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran to apologise after patient with Parkinson’s disease left starving for up to two weeks Getty Images

An NHS board has been ordered to apologise after a patient with a history of Parkinson’s Disease was left starving for two weeks due to a delay in inserting a nasal tube.

The SPSO instructed the Ayrshire and Arran NHS board to apologise to the spouse of a late patient, referred to as C to protect their anonymity.

C complained that the care and treatment provided to their late spouse, referred to as A, including leaving the patient without “appropriate nutrition and hydration” while in hospital.

A was admitted to hospital with a suspected urinary tract infection but their condition deteriorated and they died a few months later.

C complained that staff had not treated A with dignity and ascribed A’s symptoms to their pre-existing conditions rather than treating individual needs.

A had a history of Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease.

C also complained about the personal care provided to A, particularly with respect to management of their skin during admission.

The board considered that they provided A with reasonable care and treatment but acknowledged and apologised for a delay in inserting an nasogastric tube, which carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose.

After consulting with a geriatrician and registered nurse, the SPSO found that while A’s hydration was “reasonable” there was a two-week period where A was Nil by Mouth without any other arrangements in place to ensure their nutritional needs were being met.

The watchdog added that A’s Parkinson’s Disease was priority for staff but there was only limited input from relevant specialists which they deemed “unreasonable”.

They also found that there was a failure to document the reasons for the provision of different medication and changes in delivery method.

In relation to wound management for the patient, SPSO found that there were gaps between wound assessments and that the documentation was not completed appropriately, resulting in no structured or measurable approach to assessing A’s pressure sore.

The watchdog upheld the claims and ordered the NHS board to apologise.

Dr Crawford McGuffie, Medical Director at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: “I am sorry that we did not meet the high standards of care that we strive for in NHS Ayrshire & Arran for this patient.

“The Board fully accepts the recommendations in the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) report.

“We have issued a formal apology to the family of patient A, and are working through the recommendations highlighted in the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) report.

“We will ensure that we share the learning from the report within the organisation, in particular with those responsible for the operational delivery of the service and with our clinical governance teams.”

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