Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog tells trust to pay OAP £750 over care failings

Report: Marie Anderson
Report: Marie Anderson

By Lisa Smyth

A 67-year-old woman who was unable to shower by herself and needed help with her meals after breaking her arm was discharged from a Belfast hospital without a care package in place.

The Belfast Health Trust has been ordered by the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) to apologise to the patient for the inconvenience, upset and anxiety caused as a result of failings in the care and treatment she received.

It was also told to pay her £750 compensation and put in place an action plan to address the failings identified in the case.

According to a NIPSO report, the unnamed patient was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after suffering a fall at home in April 2016.

She fractured her right arm and was admitted to the hospital's fracture ward for surgery on May 17, 2016.

However, she complained to NIPSO that trust staff had failed to provide her with a thorough assessment by an occupational therapist or social worker.

The report said: "She complained that in failing to do so, trust staff further failed to appropriately provide her with a care package.

"The patient had to refer herself to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust's re-ablement team on May 23, 2016."

The NIPSO investigation found evidence that the patient had raised concerns about her ability to cope at home with hospital staff.

In addition to her arm injury, she had a history of Crohn's disease, chronic back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as weakness in her left leg due to reported nerve damage.

The patient was concerned that her medical problems, combined with the fact that she lived alone in a two-storey house, would result in her having difficulty coping.

She was also worried because her next of kin was a 72-year-old cousin who also suffered from various health conditions.

After contacting the Northern Trust, a plan was put in place for her to receive help to get dressed in the morning and with getting breakfast.

A visit was also made in the evening to assist her with tea time.

A care plan remained in place until July 20, 2016, when an assessment showed she no longer required assistance.

In her findings, Ombudsman Marie Anderson said: "I am satisfied that the failures in care and treatment I have identified caused the patient to experience the injustice of inconvenience and upset.

"She lost the opportunity to have a suitable care package in place post discharge.

"I also consider the failures in care and treatment and maladministration caused her the injustice of having to wait for a care package; upset, distress and anxiety in having to care for herself over the weekend period, and having to independently source a care package assessment three days after discharge."

She also recommended that the trust implement an action plan to put in place a series of recommendations "and should provide me with an update within three months of the date of my final report".

These mostly relate to the improvement of record keeping.

The Belfast Trust was unable to provide a comment on the report yesterday.

However, during her investigation, Ms Anderson was told by the Belfast Trust that it had "offered an apology in relation to her dissatisfaction with her discharge from Ward 4B".

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