Most of MP Ann Clwyd's claims over late husband's care rejected

Ann Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley The independent report rejected 21 out of 31 of Ms Clwyd's serious allegations

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Some serious complaints made by a Labour MP over the hospital care given to her husband before his death have been rejected following a review.

Ann Clwyd criticised Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, claiming Owen Roberts died "like a battery hen".

Although that and 20 other allegations out of 31 were not upheld, the independent investigation did find he died of hospital-induced pneumonia.

Ms Clwyd maintained she would be "vindicated".

Results of the review show nine of her allegations were entirely upheld and one partially.

But 17 were rejected, 11 were not upheld due to insufficient evidence and two were rejected because of insufficient information.

A second independent review is now taking place to examine the findings.

Claims

The complaints against Cardiff and Vale University Health Board sparked a major political row

Among the upheld allegations in the report were responses to the following comments by Ms Clwyd:

  • Her husband died of hospital-induced pneumonia
  • Despite requests that he be moved to a respiratory ward, he was still in A&E after 24 hours
  • At the time of Mr Roberts's death "a nurse came in with a trolley crying out: 'Anyone for breakfast?' It was only a four-bed ward, and she showed indifference bordering on callousness"

However, those allegations not accepted by the investigation included claims by Ms Clwyd:

  • Her husband "died like a battery hen"
  • He was "crushed against the bars of an NHS bed"
  • And that there was an "almost callous lack of care"

Other allegations not accepted included "almost every request I made was ignored or dismissed" and "I saw a nurse in the corridor and asked her why my husband wasn't in intensive care. She just said, 'There are lots worse than him'".

Freedom of information

Up until now, the results of the investigation - carried out a year ago - went unpublished.

But parts of the report were released under a Freedom of Information request.

Ms Clwyd told BBC Wales the report summary should not have been made public, especially while another investigation is under way. She disputed there was insufficient evidence for her claims, and said she had additional evidence.

She said: "I think that when the other investigation is concluded then my views will be substantially vindicated."

Analysis

This case has led to a huge political row.

We ended up with the extraordinary situation of a Labour MP, Ann Clwyd, being criticised by the Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones, for failing, in his view, to provide evidence to back up her claims.

At the same time, we recently had the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Llangollen and delegates there standing and applauding Ann Clwyd for the work she had done campaigning for better standards of care in the health service.

There is a general election of course coming up next year - health care standards are already a central part of that campaign, not least perceived differences in standards between Wales and England.

So we are going to hear a lot more about the political row this case has caused and we are going to hear a lot more about the individual case itself, I think, with a second investigation now on its way.

The health board has denied breaching confidentiality and said the details released were statements already in the public domain.

A health board spokesman said: "We would like to make quite clear that the health board has not released the full report and it is not our intention to breach any confidentiality.

"The investigation into Ms Clywd's concerns was overseen by an expert independent panel and completed in April 2013. Since then the health board has received a number of requests under Freedom of Information legislation to release that report. As part of that standard process Ms Clwyd's permission was sought to release the full report but that was refused."

The spokesman said it sought legal advice before releasing the summary.

He said: "Based on that advice the health board believes it would be in breach of its statutory duty not to release the summary report."

Dispute

The release of the report summary follows a dispute between Ms Clwyd and the Labour Welsh government.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has told Assembly Members the MP provided "unattributable" comments about the NHS that "can't be investigated".

But Ms Clwyd insisted she had provided Mr Jones with a comprehensive summary of complaints raised.

Ms Clwyd led a UK government-commissioned inquiry on how NHS hospitals in England handle complaints and said she also received hundreds of letters from Welsh patients outlining poor experiences they had suffered.

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