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Health watchdog probes 'failures' in OAP's care at Lincolnshire hospitals

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: April 23, 2012

Ralph Bryant

Investigation: Hospital bosses have apologised to widower Ralph Bryant for not telling him his wife Marjorie had and suffered a heart attack in their care

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A health watchdog will determine whether an apology from hospital bosses was enough after they admitted failures.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) apologised to Ralph Bryant, 78, from Doddington Park, Lincoln, after he was not told about his wife Marjorie's cancer diagnosis for several days. Staff at Lincoln County Hospital also delayed in telling him his wife had suffered a heart attack.

Mrs Bryant, 80, died on November 28, 2009, a few weeks after she was discharged.

The trust admitted failures including a lack of communication and in discharge arrangements.

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An internal investigation found these shortcomings did not amount to a failure in its duty of care. It is understood the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman will now begin a formal investigation.

This will look at whether ULHT's investigation of Mr Bryant's complaint failed to find a remedy for the failure in providing timely information to the Bryants; inadequacies in the discharge system meaning Mrs Bryant was left waiting alone in her dressing gown in the discharge ward and inadequate nursing assessments.

Mr Bryant, who now lives in Kent, said: "I am seeking assurances that the hospital is doing things better. That's got to be good for other patients and other families.

"Even though they apologised, they still let my wife down. They admitted they made mistakes but they said they did not think they failed in the standard of care."

Businessman Darren Fernie, the Bryants' former neighbour, is championing the case.

"For Ralph and myself the concern is that the hospital already had processes in place which should have resolved problems and not allowed issues to arise," he said.

"The ombudsman has heard back from the hospital and the investigator agrees that the replies are inadequate."

In October 2011 the trust provided the ombudsman with an action plan following an investigation into an unrelated complaint. A revised complaints system is now in place which aims to respond within an agreed timescale.

The ombudsman will consider comments from the trust and other evidence before making a decision on whether to proceed with a formal investigation.

ULHT spokesman Becky Derbyshire said: "We would like to apologise to the family of Mrs Bryant for problems in communication with them about her medical condition.

"We are aware that the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is investigating this case but cannot comment further at this time."

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  • gsx1100  |  April 26 2012, 12:24PM

    In my experience, baloo68, senior nursing staff, doctors and consultants have been quite happy to discuss treatment and prognosis when dealing with close family. They have to face worried and distressed families and the information can ease the worry and stress, which, in turn, also makes their jobs easier. Thankfully, the jobsworth automatons are being slowly eradicated. "We would like to apologise to the family of Mrs. Bryant for problems in communication with them about her medical condition". It's there in black and white, baloo68, the ULHT admit they were wrong. What can't you accept or understand about that?

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  • baloo68  |  April 26 2012, 8:06AM

    it is nessacarry because it is reality. no matter how you wish to look at it the law clearly states what you can and cant tell people NO matter what the relationship. I think you may have a different point of view if you had to deal with legistation and the contraints of it, staff cannot risk their jobs by breaking information governance rules.

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  • gsx1100  |  April 25 2012, 8:32PM

    You can reiterate as many times as you like, baloo68, but, in my opinion, the post by alison760 had a jobsworth ring to it which, I found, crass and insensitive to Mr.Bryant's situation . Unless the patient specifically demands the information blackout, I feel it is detrimental to both the patient and their families. ULHT have admitted there was a communication breakdown, so why was it necessary to quote the legal mantra? The post by bigbarry1, sums it up.

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  • baloo68  |  April 25 2012, 2:56PM

    as i said a little thing called information governance. Staff are not legally allowed to pass on certain information. I feel it was a little harsh to say the comment was crass and insensitive, it was a mere statement of fact.

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  • gsx1100  |  April 24 2012, 9:35PM

    One has to presume that alison760 hasn't had anyone close to her with any serious illness or injury. Otherwise she wouldn't have submitted that crass and insensitive post.

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  • bigbarry1  |  April 24 2012, 2:33PM

    Well Ive heard it all now! They were a married couple and what a load of claptrap about powers of attorney etc. Just pleased to say that when my wife suffered from a Brain bleed 5 years ago and was in Q E Birmingham hospital i was kept informed of her likely prognosis and was not given all those pathetic excuses. There is something called common sense and yes i do understand that the staff may make a judgement about things.. It is also up to the spouse to seek out and demand answers. You do have the right to answers and an explanation!

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  • baloo68  |  April 24 2012, 1:57PM

    a little thing called information governance

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  • alison760  |  April 23 2012, 5:53PM

    Unless he has power of attorney over his wife's care and/or she didn't have mental capacity then the hospital were correct in not telling him of her diagnosis. That was private information between the Doctor and patient.

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