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Statement in response to report by Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

FOLLOWING a comprehensive investigation by the Ombudsman into the care provided to a patient in the final stage of life, which is available to read here, the Welsh Ambulance Service has issued the following statement:

Brendan Lloyd, Medical Director at the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “This has been a distressing case for everyone involved and, as a Trust, we would like to offer our unreserved apologies and condolences once again to the patient’s family for any additional concern caused by the actions of our staff at what was an extremely difficult time.

“This was a tragic case and we failed in our duty to support the patient’s family at a time when they needed us most.

“The Ombudsman has identified a clear failing of the Trust in terms of delivering our responsibility under the Recognition of the Life Extinct (ROLE) policy, something which we fully accept.

“We have reviewed the Ombudsman’s findings in detail and a programme of work has already begun, making sure we secure every opportunity to improve the service we provide to patients and their families, particularly in respect of end of life care.

“We have taken steps to reinforce to our staff the importance of treating all our patients and family members with compassion and dignity, and we will continue to work to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in full to improve further the quality of the service we provide.

“We absolutely understand that patients and their families need the confidence to rely on our support in ensuring the last stages of life are as comfortable and dignified as possible and we recognise that our actions on this occasion fell short of the standard we, and the public, expect.

“As a Trust we recognise that as end of life approaches, individuals and those close to them need to be able to access care that is compassionate and respectful. For this to happen we need to ensure we consistently deliver the right person centred care, the first time and every time.

“We have written to the patient’s wife personally to apologise for the way her late husband’s care was handled and to explain what we are doing to improve our care for those patients at the end of their lives.

“We will also be reviewing the handling of our own internal investigation into the complaint and why its outcome was not as robust as it should have been.

“This was a very distressing incident for the family and we would like to offer our sincere condolences and unreserved apologies once again to the patient’s wife and her family on the loss of her husband.”

Notes 
The Ombudsman has not found that these issues relate to patient safety and relate more to training and communication and has therefore issued a direction setting aside the Trust obligation to publish the report. 

However, in the interests of openness, transparency and organisational learning, the Welsh Ambulance Service has made it available via its website:www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk