Cameron Hospital staff have come under fire for their lack of empathy towards a dementia patient’s concerned wife.
The ombudsman has called on NHS Fife to apologise to the upset wife of an elderly man, known only as Mr C, for its failings.
Mrs C complained about failings in her husband’s nursing care when he was at the Leven hospital.
These included delays in taking Mr C to the toilet and in receiving medication for constipation, a lack of stimulation, failing to supervise him which led to him falling several times, and poor nutrition, which caused him to lose weight.
Mrs C also said her husband had suffered a urine infection but that nursing staff had not asked a doctor to test him and that he contracted MRSA, a bacterial infection resistant to a number of antibiotics.
She was also unhappy with the attitude of nursing staff, towards her and her husband, and said they had failed to communicate with her about Mr C’s care.
The ombudsman took independent advice from a nursing adviser who said that after considering Mr C’s medical records, that his care was reasonable.
But the adviser pointed out it was clear staff had failed to communicate appropriately with Mrs C about her husband’s care and treatment.
In addition, the probe found there had been a failure to ensure her views were listened to and acted upon.
The report added that the board had accepted there were some failings in how members of staff communicated with Mrs C and in record keeping.
They had apologised and put an action plan into place to deal with the issue.
The ombudsman took the view that this failure in communication led to a breakdown in the relationship between Mrs C and the nursing staff, causing the patient’s wife to lose confidence in the staff.
The report added: “In addition, we also found that there was a lack of support and reassurance from nursing staff to help Mrs C cope with the distressing and worsening nature of Mr C’s dementia.
“We were critical of the apparent lack of empathy by staff, given that caring for relatives is a key part of the healthcare professionals’ role.”
The ombudsman recommended NHS Fife apologise for its failings and provide a copy of the action plan and updated report on the implementation of the plan.