Highlands & Islands

NHS Highland sorry for delay in cancer diagnosis

NHS Highland has apologised to a dead patient's family for a delay in diagnosing his cancer.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman's Office said the delay was unlikely to have affected the 57-year-old's chances of survival last year.

However, the watchdog said it would have added to the distress of the patient and his family.

The ombudsman upheld two of three complaints made by his brother against the health board.

NHS Highland's chief executive Elaine Mead has apologised to the family of the man, who had been a patient at Caithness General Hospital in Wick.

Ms Mead said: "On behalf of NHS Highland, I am really sorry that we were not able to get everything right for this patient.

"We welcome the independent review by the ombudsman's office and I have written to the family to personally update them on the actions that have already been taken."

'Distressing consequences'

She added: "We have shared the ombudsman's report with colleagues involved in the case.

"It was a complex case but it is really important we all reflect and learn from the distressing consequences for individuals and families when we don't get everything right."

The report recommends that the health board should review endoscopy waiting times, treat cancelled endoscopies as adverse events, review discharge planning and review admission, clerking and medical records.

It also recommended that consultants be reminded of their responsibilities to personally inform patients about their care and treatment.

The public apology is the second NHS Highland has made in the space of about a month.

In October, it issued an "unreserved apology" to a patient who developed a large bed sore while recovering from an operation.

NHS Highland said the patient got the pressure ulcer as a result of "sub standard" nursing care at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness last year.

Ms Mead said she deeply regretted the pain and distress caused to the patient.

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