Report reveals ‘poor’ communication at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust


‘Poor’ communication between staff at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust has been highlighted in a report by a health watchdog.

A Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman report released today (August 19) revealed a man was left unmonitored for more than two hours before being discharged.

For confidentiality reasons, the daughter is referred to only as ‘Mrs L’ and her father as ‘Mr K’ in a report.

The report said: “Mr K, who was in his eighties, went into hospital at the Trust in early spring 2012 because his family thought he might have had a stroke.

“Doctors treated him for heart failure. Mr K had a heart attack two weeks later, for which he had further treatment. Trust staff discharged him two weeks after that.”

Two months later, Mr K was readmitted to the Trust because he was short of breath, was treated by staff and discharged two days later.

The report said: “A few hours after he got home, Mr K went back into hospital because he was increasingly breathless. Over the next few days, Mr K’s liver and kidney function deteriorated and he died ten days later.”

Mrs L said staff did not monitor Mr K adequately or give him medication at the right time. She felt staff ‘did not always communicate well’ with Mr K’s family.

Investigators partly upheld the complaint against the trust.

The report said: “The Trust gave Mr K satisfactory medical care in early spring 2012, but doctors did not communicate adequately with other staff before Mr K was discharged.

“At times, doctors did not communicate enough with his family. Although the decision to discharge Mr K in the summer was reasonable, he was left unmonitored for two and a half hours before he went home.”

Investigators said the trust did not follow guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and did not assess Mr K in A&E before he went into hospital in summer.

They also said doctors did not provide medication or keep records in line with General Medical Council guidance.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust apologised to Mrs L and said an action plan to make sure it has ‘learnt lessons’ from the failings.

Michael Wilson, chief executive, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Every day our teams deliver care to many hundreds of local people and the Ombudsman notes that the care Mr K received was satisfactory.

“When a patient or their family do not feel things went well it is vital to us that we apologise, learn from the experience and put in place any necessary improvements.

“The Ombudsman also notes that we had already put in place improvements in nursing care and we have also continued to implement an extensive range of improvements and opportunities for our clinicians to share their learning with teams across the hospital.”

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