Heart patient failed by NHS Borders appointment system

Evelyn Rodger, NHS Borders interim director of acute services
Evelyn Rodger, NHS Borders interim director of acute services

NHS Borders has “fully accepted” the findings of a watchdog which upheld a complaint from a male patient with heart problems.

Evelyn Rodger, the health board’s interim director of acute services, admitted this week that aspects of the patient’s treatment had “not met expected standards” and she gave an assurance that lessons will be learned to improve services and the way complaints are handled.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) investigated and upheld the complaint from Mr C, who claimed he had failed to receive a cardiology service at the Borders General Hospital for nearly 18 months and had not been recalled for his routine six-monthly cardiology review appointment.

“The board said this was because, after he declined surgery for an unrelated medical condition, surgeons did not let the cardiology department know that the surgery would not go ahead,” states the SPSO report.

“We found that even after Mr C’s GP referred him again, it took too long and considerable effort on his part to get another cardiology appointment.

“The board acknowledged that there were problems with workload within the administration team and apologised for the failing.

“They acknowledged the delay was unacceptable and took steps to monitor workflow within the administration team. We found that these were reasonable actions.”

The ombudsman also found “shortcomings” in the way Mr C’s complaint had been dealt with at the hospital, and recommended NHS Borders undertakes a review of the process “by which patients are discharged from one service to another and back again and to build in safeguards to ensure the system is robust”.