South East Wales

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg patient neglect review remit's criticised

Lilian Williams
Image caption It's claimed Lilian Williams was seriously neglected at two hospitals before she died

A review ordered by the health minister after the alleged neglect of an elderly patient is not investigating the time she spent in hospital, her family say.

The review follows Lilian Williams' family's complaint about her care at two hospitals before her death in 2012.

But it has emerged the inquiry is only looking at the position at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board now.

However, the Welsh government said it is likely the review will look at the time Mrs Williams was in hospital.

Mrs Williams, 82, from Porthcawl, was admitted to Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, and Neath Port Talbot Hospital four times from August 2010 to November 2012, when she died.

Her family told BBC Wales she was left dehydrated and she failed to receive adequate care in hospital.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford ordered the review in October when he said investigators could look at the standard of care delivered by the hospitals during Mrs Williams' time as a patient.

'Very disturbing experience'

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Media captionLilian Williams' family say they do not want anyone else to suffer.

At the time he told AMs: "I will give you this assurance - there will be nothing in the terms of reference that would prevent Professor Andrews {the review's lead investigator} from looking at care standards in those hospitals at the time that Mrs Williams was a patient."

But in an email seen by BBC Wales, Prof Andrews said she was concentrating on what was currently happening at the health board.

"I am aware of Mr Williams' {Lilian Williams' son} very disturbing experience, and I can understand why the health minister has linked that to his decision that there is a need for a review of how the hospitals concerned are performing now," she said.

"However, at this stage the review is not looking at previous events, but rather auditing the current position."

But Gareth Williams said the review must look back in order to learn lessons from the past so mistakes were not repeated.

'Basic principle'

"The review, if it doesn't look back will not be able to establish the reasons why things have gone so badly wrong in those hospitals over a number of years," he added.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents medical negligence charity, said: "In order to plan for the future we need to learn lessons from the past, that's a basic principle of patient safety work."

"This current review doesn't go anywhere near far enough, and that's what families and patients are telling us."

On Monday Mr Drakeford told BBC Wales that Prof Andrews was looking at the current situation at the health board.

But he added: "Where she feels in order to understand today she needs to look at things that have happened in the past then she is absolutely free to do so but it will be for her to make those judgements, not for me."

Later, a spokesman for the Welsh government said the first part of the review was an in-depth examination of current practice.

The second part is historical but it will be up to the investigating team to decide how far back they look.

There is nothing within the terms of reference to prevent the team from looking at previous standards of care if it believes it needs to do so, the spokesman added.

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