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NHS Highland asked to apologise for 'unreasonable treatment' of family after complaints upheld by ombudsman

By Louise Glen

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THE family of a seriously ill child have had complaints against NHS Highland for "unreasonable treatment" upheld by the ombudsman.

The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, complained to the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO) about their child's care and treatment at the hospital, and the way in which complaints were dealt with.

A report into the case found a number of failings on the part of NHS Highland including unreasonable care and treatment.

The names of the family in the report have been withheld, instead using 'C' and 'B' who are the parents of the child, known as 'A'.

It reads: "C and their spouse (B) complained about events during two periods of hospital treatment for their child (A).

"A has complex medical needs.

"They are cared for by C and B at home, however they have required multiple and prolonged spells in hospital.

"C and B complained about the care and treatment A received, communication by the board, communication within the board and how their complaint was handled."

The report continued: "We took independent advice from a consultant paediatrician and a social work adviser.

"We found that the care and treatment A received on their first admission were unreasonable.

"We considered that there was inadequate dietetic support, an unreasonable reliance on C and B's assessment as to whether intake was sufficient, and a lack of information and help for the family when A required emergency care after a gastro-jejunal tube (G-J tube, a tube used to vent the stomach and small intestine) procedure."

In relation to A's second hospital treatment, we considered the care and treatment to be reasonable. We did not uphold this aspect of the complaint.

However, the report continued: "We also found a lack of reasonable communication with C and B about A's care and treatment and a lack of reasonable communication between the board’s staff during A's second admission. We upheld these aspects of the complaint.

"Finally, we found that the board failed to handle C and B's complaint reasonably."

In response to the complaints, the board acknowledged a number of failings in A’s care and treatment and the way in which they had communicated with C and B.

NHS Highland also said that consideration should have been given to earlier involvement of social work and the community children’s nurse.

NHS Highland has been told to apologise to the family.

NHS Highland said: "We have apologised to the family for the failings identified in the care provided. The report has been shared with the team and they have undertaken significant reflection and learning. All recommendations made will be actioned."

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