Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
Ms X complained on behalf of her late father, Mr Y, that the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust(“WAST”) did not provide reasonable and timely care and treatment to Mr Y on 12December 2019. Ms X also complained that her complaint to WAST was not handled properly.
The investigation found that WAST did not provide reasonable and timely care to Mr Y. In particular, it found that although WAST was very busy on the day in question, there were times when it was not operationally stretched, or when it should nonetheless have prioritised callers in Mr Y’s position. Further, call backs were not made to Mr Y on a number of occasions, and triggers for further actions to address Mr Y’s call were missed. The priority level of his call was finally escalated
15 hours after he initially telephoned, and almost 9 hours after he had last been spoken to. Mr Y was also repeatedly advised not to drink anything, meaning he was ultimately deprived of fluid for 22 hours. The service failures identified caused Mr Y, an elderly gentleman, a considerable injustice as he was left alone and in pain, waiting for an ambulance, and on arrival at hospital he was dry and probably dehydrated as a result. The investigation also found that Ms X’s complaint was not handled properly, as the complaint response was delayed, and no explanation was given for what happened to Mr Y, WAST simply reiterating that it was very busy that day. The Ombudsman therefore upheld both elements of Ms X’s complaint.
As WAST had already identified areas that required updating following its own internal investigation into this complaint, the Ombudsman recommended that WAST feedback to Ms X on the progress of those specific recommendations. In particular, WAST agreed to feedback on progress regarding training additional staff, reviewing welfare check guidance (particularly in relation to escalating calls if contact is not made with the patient, and in relation to advice provided to callers when the patient has had a long wait) and in highlighting where patients are identified as being on their own or otherwise vulnerable.