Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
Ms T complained about aspects of her mother, Mrs A’s, care at Ysbyty Gwynedd in April/May 2020. Specifically, Ms T complained that:
a) Inadequate precautions were taken to protect Mrs A from contracting COVID-19 (“Covid”) while in hospital.
b) Mrs A was inappropriately discharged from hospital and allowed to return home to live with her husband (“Mr A”), who was himself vulnerable and who subsequently contracted Covid.
c) Poor record keeping contributed to the Health Board’s failure to take account of Mr A’s vulnerability in discharging Mrs A from hospital.
The Ombudsman found that, although it was likely that Mrs A contracted Covid in hospital, it was not possible to entirely prevent patients from doing so. He did not uphold this part of the complaint. However, he concluded that Mrs A was discharged from hospital without any formal assessment of her needs, or of Mr A’s vulnerability; whilst he could not conclude that this was solely responsible for Mr A contracting Covid, Mrs A’s family was left with the uncertainty of not knowing whether this was the case. The Ombudsman upheld this element of the complaint. The records contained sufficient information to alert the Health Board to Mr A’s vulnerability, and thus the Ombudsman did not uphold the complaint about record-keeping.
The Health Board agreed to apologise to Ms T for the failings and make a payment of £1000 to her in recognition of the distress caused, as well as reminding staff of the importance of discharge planning and communication with patients/their families.