Carer's Experience Medical Neglect

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The following letter is that which I sent to the Health Service Ombudsman's office in response to the request for my views on the manner in which the complaint procedure had been carried out.

The Ombudsman's office in thanking me for the completed survey also thanked me for this letter. Note was made of my comments and appreciation was tendered for the time that I had taken and the effort that I had made in providing a detailed response to the customer survey.

Office of the Health Service Ombudsman for Scotland,

31 September 2001.

For the attention of ....

Dear Mr ..../Ms ....,

Please find enclosed the completed Survey Form. I apologise for my delay in responding, which was due to my College studies and ill health. There are also so many dubious points that caused me to be at a loss as to how to start.

With regard to the Survey numbered sections 9 and 10, I have detailed some comments below. I am very satisfied that the lack of communication from hospital staff to me, as I had stated in my Local Resolution letters, has been recognised and also that the existence of a lack of discussion among themselves has been clearly noted.

Throughout the Trust Staff evidence I see mostly glaring contradictions/inconsistencies and imagined/concocted recollections. It also satisfies me that:-

the failings regarding the CPR decision are highlighted in Paragraph 23;
the lack of required documentation by staff has been criticised in various paragraphs;
the failings of the staff of Wards .... and .... are highlighted in strong terms in Paragraph 28;
there is, in Paragraph 29, recognition that my version of events has a greater "ring of truth" than the evidence of the medical staff.

My dissatisfactions are:-

1. that the report accepts, without question, that the final decision on clinical management rests with medical staff, as in Paragraphs 24-26. I strongly disagree and consider that this should always be challenged, especially when "end of life" decisions come into the equation. For all of the justifiable criticisms regarding staff failings, I feel that those criticisms should have been stronger eg regarding their tardiness in phoning on the morning of my Mother's death. The hospital had my phone number, and although the report lays the blame for my non-presence at their door, they could have phoned long before they did to either ask for my attendance or to discuss the situation. Nor do I like to see the "Findings" accepting that expression "best interests" with regard to a patient, when so often in the medical world it represents the best interests of the Trust in their not having to be overly bothered with the elderly. I am very disappointed that this aspect of complaints (b(i)(ii)) was not upheld, when the external assessors state the unreasonableness of decisions made without consulting me.

2. that there is acceptance of the staff claims regarding their difficulty in communicating bad news, and of past difficulty in getting me to understand my Mother's fundamental problems. The very opposite is the truth which needs to be known, and is clear to see in my Mother's GP case notes. During the long period as my Mother's carer, I rarely experienced much other than patronisation, marginalisation, a sense of umbrage and my getting the impression of being a nuisance, on the part of medicals, regarding my attempts to understand and acquire knowledge of her illnesses. This can be seen among her case notes in various letters between GPs/Hospital doctors/District Nursing showing that which I consider "closing ranks" against me and actions/attitudes detrimental to my Mother's overall health. They spent more time attacking both of our characters and being totally unhelpful than they spent in communicating. Doctors were more concerned about protecting themselves against possible accusations of showing no interest in her sufferings than they were concerned about finding the cause of those distressing symptoms, which had bothered her for years. I am sure that they were due to autonomic neuropathy caused by her Type 2 Diabetes, which doctors knew of years before but kept that knowledge to themselves. Their callous disregard and neglect was reprehensible as was the incompetence. Even the Consultants Report during the Local Resolution stages 1 and 2 states wrongly that prior to the Hyperosmolar Diabetic Coma, my Mother was not a Diabetic.

Those facts only touch lightly upon the trouble that I had with medical people. I believe that the Ombudsman should take a much more critical stance on issues and make it clear to medical people that they should expect to be put under intensive scrutiny.

The problems caused by non-communication were all due to their failings as human beings and as medicals. A dossier detailing my experiences lies with Mrs .... Scotland Patients Association, West Plean, Stirling who I am sure could present similar histories and consulting them would substantiate the above. The Report displays too much sympathy for their claimed difficulties which I consider unjustified.

The unquestioning respect which I once had for the medical profession has gone, to be replaced by contempt, distrust and a deep hatred for the manner in which my Mother was treated both by GPs and district nursing and also within that hospital on various occasions by staff. I find it hard to believe that they will do much more than pay lip service to the Ombudsman's deliberations. They remain effectively legally answerable to nobody.

I trust that the above can be of some value.

I am,
Yours Sincerely,
Iain R. Stewart.

Select a dated order Ombudsman sub-page.
Local 1a Local 1b Local 1c Local 1d
Review First Report Comments

Iain R. Stewart, Ex-Carer

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