NHS Fife has apologised to a patient after a surgery delay left them in ‘excruciating’ pain, forcing them to pay privately.
A probe by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman found NHS Fife failed to carry out the surgery in time.
The health board was ordered to apologise and pay the patient the cost of what the surgery would have cost NHS Fife.
The patient, identified as C in the report, was placed on a waiting list.
Surgery delay after NHS Fife administrative error
An investigation report said: “C complained about the length of time they waited for gallbladder surgery.
“They had two emergency admissions to hospital without surgery being carried out and had been placed on the waiting list for surgery after their second admission.
“C said that they were left in chronic and excruciating pain and considered the surgery should have been carried out on an emergency basis.
“They considered the length of time that they were waiting was unreasonable. As a result, C had the surgery carried out privately.”
NHS Fife said it was reasonable to postpone the surgery after C was admitted to hospital.
But the SPSO said it had taken advice from an expert surgeon, and found that C’s case should have been regarded as a high priority.
Instead, an administrative error after C’s first emergency admission meant this did not happen.
“We found that C should have been regarded as a high priority case given their symptoms had led to two emergency admissions and, after each admission, they should have been offered an early appointment for surgery once the inflammation settled,” the report said.
“After the second admission, C was added to the waiting list with no indication as to when their surgery would take place.”
Concluding that NHS Fife had failed to arrange the surgery within a reasonable timeframe, the SPSO upheld the complaint.
NHS Fife accept report findings
“We took into account that the cost of the private treatment was partly due to
the board’s failings and also partly due to a private decision by C.
“In the specific circumstances, we recommended that C be reimbursed to the extent which the surgery would have cost the board,” they said.
NHS Fife was also ordered to formally apologise for the delay, which it confirmed it had now done.
Measures have also been put in place to limit the opportunity for the issue being repeated in future
Apologising for the surgery delay, NHS Fife Director of Nursing Janette Owens said: “Our aim is always to provide patients in Fife with the best possible care and treatment, however, in this instance we recognise that we fell short of these standards.
“We accept the findings of the ombudsman and have enacted their recommendations, including apologising formally to the individual involved.
“Measures have also been put in place to limit the opportunity for the issue being repeated in future, particularly in more complex cases such as this.”