Serious failings at hospital before and after patient’s operation

The operation was carried out at Western Isles Hospital.
The operation was carried out at Western Isles Hospital.

NHS Western Isles has been severely criticised in a report published by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) after a patient had a different operation from what she had expected.

The patient is now in the position that due to scarring she cannot have further surgery and is left in pain. Legal proceedings have now begun against NHS Western Isles.

Inaccurate information was given to the patient after the operation, concluded the SPSO, the Board also failed to record complications after the operation as a significant adverse event.

The patient was scheduled to have a major gynaecological operation which had been planned with a consultant at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway. However the consultant was unavailable when the operation was planned and arrangements were made for a locum to carry out the procedure to remove all but the neck of her womb and her ovaries.

She met the locum the day before and she gave consent. The day after she needed a blood transfusion due to complications and was transferred to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) and on her recovery a few days later she was told by the consultant that operation had been carried out and that one ovary and part of another had been removed.

However five months after the operation she was referred back to the original consultant as she was in pain and was told that her ovaries had not been removed.

On complaining to the Board she was told the locum said she said she did not want her ovaries removed but had changed her mind. During the operation he had found scar tissue which meant it was unsafe to continue. He said he might have given her the wrong information as he had confused her with someone else.

The patient complained that the procedure was not carried out as expected, she had been given inaccurate information and that the board did not adequately explain the complications to her.

The report concludes: “I found serious failings on the part of the locum and the board both before and after the operation. I made a number of recommendations, including that the board bring my adviser’s comments to the attention of relevant staff, review their locum cover procedures and significant adverse event guidance, and ensure they have a clear policy for transferring responsibility for care between consultants.”

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “NHS Western Isles would wish to publicly apologise for this patient’s experience, which fell below the standard we would aim for.

“We accept the Ombudsman’s recommendations and have already taken steps to action a number of these.

“NHS Western Isles would point out that the locum involved in this case was a long-term locum, who worked with NHS Western Isles for a number of years as a Consultant Gynaecologist and was familiar with the organisation and the procedure carried out.

“NHS Western Isles cannot comment further on this matter as it is now subject to legal proceedings.”