THE nursing director at the NHS Ayrshire and Arran health board has apologised to the partner of a patient after early discharges led to death.

The partner of the deceased put in a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, saying that their partner was not fit enough to be discharged, that their symptoms suggested severe illness and that had treatment been provided sooner, they may have survived.

The complaint was upheld by the public body.

The patient, referred to as ‘A’ in the decision notice from SPSO was in hospital to have surgery to remove their gallbladder.

A had a difficult time in recovery but was deemed fit enough for discharge. However, A had to be readmitted four days later after becoming unwell.

A was discharged again two days later.

A deteriorated at home yet again and was readmitted to hospital two days later and was diagnosed as suffering from a significant bleed. A was taken to the operating theatre but died later that day.

The board acknowledged there had been delays in A being assessed and treated on their final admission.

The SPSO decision notice states: “On A’s final readmission, there was an unreasonable delay in assessing A, diagnosing that their symptoms were caused by a significant bleed and subsequently moving A to theatre for investigations.

“Whilst earlier treatment was unlikely to have altered the outcome for A, this delay was so serious that we upheld the complaint.”

One of the recommendations issued by the SPSO was that the health board apologise for “the unreasonable delay between A’s diagnosis and in A being moved to theatre for further investigations to take place.”

Professor Hazel Borland, Nurse Director at NHS Ayrshire and Arran issued the following apology: “I am so sorry that we did not meet the high standards of care we strive for in NHS Ayrshire & Arran for this patient and their partner. In addition to our formal apology to the partner of A, I can advise that we have fully accepted all the recommendations in the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) report.

“We have addressed the issues highlighted and made the appropriate changes, ensuring investigation of a patients reported symptoms and record-keeping is completed to the required standards.

“In order to ensure learning across the organisation, we will share the findings from the report with staff and assurance will be provided to our Healthcare Governance Committee that the necessary actions have been completed.”