Hospital boss apologises after report into heart patient’s death

Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
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A HOSPITAL chief has apologised after a report found that a heart patient who died had “not been given the best possible opportunity” to survive surgery.

The Health Service Ombudsman criticised Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust but did not find that the woman’s death had been avoidable.

In the summer of 2011 she was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and had surgery.

Her consultant cardiologist said she needed close follow up, but trust staff did not make a referral. In autumn 2011 she was admitted for treatment as her condition deteriorated.

The ombudsman’s report, published today, said she needed to see the consultant cardiac surgeon but he was on leave and staff did not look for another surgeon.

The report said: “She was not seen until later in the year and had urgent surgery, but sadly she did not survive.”

The investigation found failings in the way that the woman was discharged after surgery and after a second admission.

The report said these failings left the woman unsupported when her condition deteriorated, which distressed both her and her family.

The trust’s deputy chief executive and chief nurse, Prof Suzanne Hinchliffe, apologised to all those involved. She added: “Ensuring our patients have the best possible care and experience when using our services is our main priority.

“On those unfortunate occasions when our care falls below the standard we would expect, we take every opportunity to learn from these events, put improvements in place and minimise the risk of them happening again.”

She also apologised for the care of a patient involved in a separate complaint. The ombudsman’s report found several failings in the treatment of a woman who fractured her ankle – including a nurse using a dressing with iodine which the patient was allergic to and some aspects of the trust’s complaint handling being poor.

Prof Hinchliffe said a new complaints policy and increased training for staff had now been introduced.

“We are constantly striving to improve how we respond to complaints,” she added.