South West Wales

Hywel Dda board criticised for cancer patient failings

West Wales General Hospital
Image caption No follow-up appointment was made for the patient and he was not seen until more than a year later

A health board has been been criticised for serious failings in the treatment of a prostate cancer patient.

The patient needed three-monthly check-ups at the West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen, but was not seen for more than a year, and his cancer advanced.

Public services ombudsman Peter Tyndall called for a review of its appointments systems and made other recommendations.

Hywel Dda Health Board said it had apologised and taken action to prevent the situation from arising again.

A report said the patient - known only as Mr C - complained about his follow-up care after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

He was treated at the West Wales General Hospital, run by the former Hywel Dda NHS Trust.

In 2008, he was told the cancer was "non-aggressive" and a further biopsy would be done a year later, but he would be given a follow-up appointment in three months time.

However, no follow-up appointment was made, and - after his own inquiries - he was not seen until more than a year later.

By that time, the cancer had advanced.

The ombudsman's report said the "investigation uncovered serious failures".

In summary, it said the health board's urology service "at the relevant time had an appointment backlog of over 11 months," and that "no effective or urgent action was taken to address the increasing backlog within that time".

It also said there "were no written procedures for appointment making which was a function of the medical records department".

'Severe consequences'

It added there had been "a consequential breach of NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) clinical guidance".

The report said: "All shortcomings had severe consequences for Mr C.

"The ombudsman was very critical of these fundamental failings which he felt called into question the health board's governance and potentially placed more patients at risk."

It added: "Mr C said he felt very let down, and angry as he no longer knew what the future held for him. He could only hope that the treatment was successful.

"Mr C added that had he known then what he now knows, he would have contacted the health board to inquire about an appointment at three months, but he trusted the doctors to take care of him".

Recommendations were made, including that the health board offer an apology and "redress of £3,000 to Mr C for the failures and distress caused to him".

Hywel Dda Health Board chief executive Trevor Purt said: "Firstly, I would like to apologise to the patient for the failures identified in the ombudsman's report.

"We fully accept the findings of the report and have undertaken immediate action to ensure such a situation will not happen again."

He said all cancer outpatient lists had been reviewed along with a review of all other outpatient lists to ensure patients are being seen at the right time.

Mr Purt said patients with any concerns should call the board on 01437 771279 or 771225.

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