Hospital blunder ‘must never happen again’

Pam Gilchrist. Picture: Jane Barlow
Pam Gilchrist. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A BLUNDER which resulted in a four-hour delay to an operation on a pensioner must never be repeated, MSPs have warned.

A scathing ombudsman report slammed NHS Lothian for the “significant personal injustice” Jim Gilchrist suffered after staff were forced to source a vital piece of equipment from Dundee while he was in 

The 82-year-old suffered months of misery after undergoing the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary procedure, with the delay to his treatment being linked to his subsequent paralysis amputation of his leg.

The Evening News also revealed yesterday how distraught son John, 57, died of a deep vein thrombosis last November, without the chance to see the critical findings and recommendations to NHS Lothian, published on Wednesday, because he was too afraid to seek treatment after what had happened to his father.

John’s wife Pam said she believed her husband could still be alive today if he had not developed a fear of the ERI.

Commenting on the ombudsman’s report, Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack said it was essential lessons were learned.

She said: “The ombudsman’s report could not be clearer in its assessment that the health board failed in its duty of care to this patient and his family.

“These tragic circumstances underline the need for proper checks ahead of surgery to safeguard patient safety and to ensure that all of the risks are discussed before consent is given.”

Failings highlighted included not ensuring that all required equipment was available before the operation, or that the risks were fully explained in advance.

Staff knew Mr Gilchrist, of Newtongrange, was unable to move his legs after the operation but did not flag it up for 12 hours. A number of recommendations were made, including that the board improve surgical safety and record-keeping and staff be re-trained where appropriate.

Ms Boyack added: “NHS staff are under tremendous pressure and must be supported to ensure they are able to carry out their jobs effectively. That has to include time to keep accurate records and regular training in relevant safety procedures.

“I hope that the upholding of these complaints allows the family to move on. It is important the health board takes the recommendations on board.”

The calls were echoed by MSP Alison Johnstone, Scottish Greens’ health spokeswoman, who said: “This case is both alarming and saddening.”

Sarah Ballard-Smith, nurse director for NHS Lothian, apologised to the family and said an action plan was being implemented.