NHS chiefs ‘sorry’ for treatment of patient

Alison Savage with a picture of her father Samuel
Alison Savage with a picture of her father Samuel
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HEALTH chiefs have offered an “unreserved apology” to the family of an elderly man for mistakes in his care and the unfeeling treatment he received from doctors.

Samuel Savage, 80, from Broomhall, was admitted to ward 4 at the Western General hospital in June to undergo a scan for prostate cancer which had been diagnosed in 2004. While there, he was diagnosed with MRSA and a urinary tract infection.

While he was in hospital, Mr Savage was given penicillin for five days, despite the fact he was wearing a wristband which clearly stated that he was allergic to it.

His daughter, Alison Savage, a teacher from Wester Hailes, said that as her father’s condition deteriorated, the consultant dealing with him had repeatedly ignored the family’s pleas to let him die at home rather than in a hospice or hospital, and had delivered upsetting news in front of her father in an off-hand manner.

Ms Savage, 48, said her father’s consultant had an appalling bedside manner and had shown no compassion. She said: “The doctor came in with a junior doctor and my dad was lying in bed and I said, ‘Look I’m telling you time and time again we want my father to come home, he’s finding it very, very stressful here’.

“The doctor said to me in front of my father, ‘You need to be aware that your father is very, very unwell and when he goes to the hospice – which showed he wasn’t listening to me – he will go downhill very, very quickly. My father couldn’t believe what he was hearing, I think he was in deep shock. I was absolutely furious.”

Mr Savage, formerly owner of the Craiglockhart Carpet Centre, was finally allowed home after he was accepted by a new scheme led by Marie Curie Cancer Care to ease the discharge of terminally ill patients to their own homes. He died five weeks later.

Ms Savage said she had been shocked to realise that her father was being given penicillin when he was known to be allergic to it. She only discovered the error after looking at a folder of his medical notes: “I opened up the folder, and I could see that they contained Amoxiclav and I thought, ‘I thought that was penicillin’.”

Ms Savage checked when she got home and discovered she was right. She said she had also found that poor co-ordination between staff made it difficult to get updates on her father.

She lodged an official complaint with NHS Lothian and then met with chief nurse Agnes Ritchie and associate divisional medical director Victor Lopes. Ms Ritchie later wrote to her to offer an “unreserved apology”.

Jackie Sansbury, chief operating officer of NHS Lothian, said: “Ms Savage complained that the care her father received fell short of her expectations, and we apologise once again for this. We met with Ms Savage on two separate occasions to discuss her complaints. We have carried out a full investigation into each point raised and took a number of steps to ensure a repeat of those circumstances does not happen again.

“In particular we are reinforcing with staff the importance of communicating with the relatives of patients.”