Man homeless after being told he is dying

Borders General Hospital
Borders General Hospital

A disabled man was left homeless after being discharged from hospital, as his family was told he was dying three months earlier.

The man, named Mr A in the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s report, was fit enough to be released from Borders General Hospital three months after relatives were recommended that he be transferred to another hospital for end of life care.

However, in that time, the family had given up his tenancy and some of his belongings, believing he was soon to die. It meant the man, suffering from dementia and other health problems, had to stay in a nursing unit rather than his former home.

Although he died two months later, the man’s sister (Mrs C) complained to the ombudsman regarding her sibling’s care and treatment, also claiming he was not dressed in warm clothing when transferred to the nursing home on a “very cold and snowy day”.

She was also critical of NHS Borders’ lack of communication and consultation with the family.

While refusing to uphold the complaint, ombudsman Jim Martin recommended NHS Borders reviews its policy on informing relatives in such situations about the option of NHS continuing care – free treatment provided outside of hospital.

Mr Martin wrote: “Our investigation, which included taking independent advice from two of our medical advisers, found that the care and treatment provided to Mr A had been reasonable overall.

“However, the advisers raised some concerns over a lack of clarity on issues of Mr A’s lack of capacity, the waiting times for outpatient investigations and information for relatives on NHS continuing care provision.”

Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Borders said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s found no evidence that our care of Mr A did not meet the expected standards and satisfied with the decision not uphold this complaint.

“We are considering the recommendations suggested by the ombudsman, listed in the report, and will take appropriate actions to address them.

“NHS Borders takes every complaint very seriously and uses the lessons learnt to improve our services.”