NHS Tayside has been forced to apologise after failing to “appropriately handle” a woman’s discharge from a local mental health facility.
A report by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) found the health board did not follow correct procedure when deciding to discharge the patient while also failing to inform her of a change in diagnosis.
The patient, identified as Mrs C, had complained that she was discharged because of the absence of her usual community psychiatric nurse (CPN), who had been off for several months.
The ombudsman was critical in its report and upheld the complaint but did find the decision to discharge “reasonable” and unrelated to staffing issues.
The fact that the patient had not been seen by a CPN for four months also breached the regulator’s guidelines, as her care plan stated she should be seen every two weeks.
The health board’s failure to inform the patient she had been newly-diagnosed as having possible borderline personality disorder (BPD) rather than bipolar disorder, also breached the rules.
The report, which took independent advise from a CPN, states: “We found that there was a lack of continuity in the support provided to Mrs C once her CPN was absent.
“Prior to discharge, Mrs C had been without support for around four months, despite her care plan stipulating that she would be seen every two weeks.
“The adviser noted that the care plan should have been updated to reflect the CPN’s absence but this did not happen.
“They also confirmed that, while Mrs C was aware that a diagnosis of BPD was being considered, no formal diagnosis had been given.
“However, they noted that Mrs C had now been referred back to the board for the specific purpose of reaching a clear diagnosis.”
It added: “Overall we found that the decision to discharge Mrs C was reasonable.
“However, the manner that this was handled and communicated to Mrs C was not in line with the agreed care plan or relevant guidance. Therefore, we upheld both of Mrs C’s complaints.”
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “We have apologised to the patient and have taken action to address the recommendations in the report.”