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NHS apologises over hospital care for child after a family's complaint for “unreasonable treatment” are upheld by the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO)

By Louise Glen

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NHS Highland logo.
NHS Highland logo.

The family of a seriously ill child have had complaints against NHS Highland for “unreasonable treatment” upheld.

A couple complained to the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO) about their child’s care and treatment at the hospital, and the way in which complaints were dealt with by the health board.

NHS Highland has now been found to have failed on a number of fronts.

The anonymised SPSO reports refers to the child in the case as “A”, with the parents labelled “B” and “C” and say the complaint centred on two periods of hospital treatment for the child, who has complex medical needs.

“C and B complained about the care and treatment A received, communication by the board, communication within the board and how their complaint was handled,” the SPSO report stated

“We found that the care and treatment A received on their first admission were unreasonable. We considered that there was inadequate dietetic support, an unreasonable reliance on C and B’s assessment as to whether intake was sufficient, and a lack of information and help for the family when A required emergency care after a gastro-jejunal tube (used to vent the stomach and small intestine) procedure.”

In relation to a second hospital stay, however, the SPSO found care and treatment to have been reasonable.

Nevertheless, the report continued: “We also found a lack of reasonable communication with C and B about A’s care and treatment and a lack of reasonable communication between the board’s staff during A’s second admission. We upheld these aspects of the complaint.

“Finally, we found that the board failed to handle C and B’s complaint reasonably.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: “We have apologised to the family for the failings identified in the care provided.

“The report has been shared with the team and they have undertaken significant reflection and learning. All recommendations made will be actioned.”

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