North Wales Health Board Criticised

1 July 2014, 06:00

The Public Service Ombudsman has upheld a complaint about the Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board after a patient needed emergency eye treatment following the cancellation of two scheduled appointments.

It says the Health Board delayed a woman's clinic appointments "unreasonably" and that it "failed to manage her glaucoma-related risks appropriately". The woman was forced to rearrange two visits to a Glaucoma Review Clinic, but while she waited for the new appointments she sustained significant vision loss in her right eye and was forced to have emergency treatment. She also experienced "considerable distress" because of the delays.

Today Professor Margaret Griffiths, acting Ombudsman for Wales, who carried out the report said "There are real issues that the autority needs to address in terms of delays in treatment of this sort" and she went on to say that this case could be highlighting a wider problem. "This lady is probably not the only person caught in this particular delay, and it's bound to be causing concern to other people with similar health issues". As well as the cancelled appointments, the report also found that the Health Board took too long to respond to the woman's complaint.

The Ombudsman has now made several recommendations to the Health Board, including that it make an apology to the patient and that it review its ophthalmology services.

In a statement, Angela Hopkins, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said "The Health Board has received the Ombudsman's Report and accepts its findings in full.  Clearly in this instance, standards of care fell below the level which we expect to provide to patients. The issues raised in the Ombudsman's Report are already being addressed, and a range of actions have been agreed with the Ombudsman which will build on the progress already made."

That's been welcomed by Professor Griffiths who says "When one publishes any report of this type we look for the fact that the Health Board does take on board 100% the reccomendations that we make and of course we will follow up on them afterwards to make sure compliance has happened".

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