Widower’s complaint upheld by Ombudsman

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A grieving widower has welcomed news that an apology from NHS Western Isles is coming more than two years after the death of his wife.

Mum of three Catherine Fraser, died at just 55, in December 2014, after a very difficult period in which she had both her legs amputated due to diabetic ulcers, which, her husband Peter claims could have been avoided.

After his wife’s passing, Mr Fraser began lengthy research into her condition, and he took his case to the the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

The regulatory body has now recommended that he gets an an apology from NHS Western Isles.

It agreed that ‘’relevant guidance was not followed and an urgent referral should have been made.’’

Mr Fraser believes that a quicker referral and proper procedure could have saved his wife’s legs which subsequently accelerated her deterioration which saw her pass away in 2014.

He said: ‘’Catherine was diabetic from the age of three, but she never had any life threatening issues until 2008. She worked as a classroom assistant in a local school and was in good health.

‘‘It was in 2012 when her health became worse and we had a home visit from two doctors to assess some feet ulcers.

“This is something which should have rung alarm bells but they didn’t seem to be aware of the guidelines for referral. A nurse also contacted the podiatry department of the hospital but they elected to leave her and return several days later after the weekend. When she was finally seen her leg pulses were completely gone.’’

Mr Fraser added: “When it comes to diabetic ulcers things can change in hours, never mind days.

‘‘Later on I was told by other people that my wife’s legs could have perhaps been saved had she been checked and treated sooner.”

The Omudsman investigated and decided an apology was in order.

Its report stated: “The advice I have received and accept is that when true diabetic foot ulcers occurred in October 2012 the relevant guidance was not followed and an urgent referral should have been made to the multidisciplinary diabetic foot care service in line with clinical guidance.

‘’This would have given access to further vascular assessment and a vascular consultant.I am concerned that the advice I have received and accept is that earlier vascular intervention may have prevented deterioration in your wife’s lower limbs. However, I am mindful that the advice I have also received is there is no evidence of vascular scans to define if this would have been possible.”

The Ombudsman confirmed that in all circumstances Mr Fraser’s complaint was upheld.

A spokesman for NHS Western Isle said: “We received an additional communication from the SPSO on the 10th April, and arising from that a further letter will go out to Mr Fraser.”