NHS trust apologises to addict

NHS Borders has apologised for “inconsistent and contradictory” information and advice given to a methadone patient.

The health authority’s medical director Ross Cameron said the trust “fully accepted” the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman’s recommendations after a complaint by the man’s father against its Galashiels-based community addiction team.

NHS Borders also said sorry for negative comments in a funding referral letter to the family.

Ombudsman Jim Marttin said: “Mr C raised concerns on behalf of his son, Mr A, about the care and treatment Mr A received from the community addiction team.”

He complained of inconsistent information and contradictory advice, Mr Martin said, and what he considered to be inconsistent attitudes from members of staff, which had caused Mr A distress and anxiety. ”

While Mr Martin said he found treatment options “reasonable and consistent”, he upheld Mr C’s complaint over his son’s prescriptions for methadone, often given to heroin addicts.

Mr Martin said: “The explanations provided for prescription changes were not always adequate.”

He said he had also found that a letter from the board setting out the funding application provided an unjustified negative clinical opinion and failed to detail the criteria for funding.”

As well as calling for NHS Borders to apologise for the distress caused to the family, the ombudsman asked the it to review its procedure for funding applications to ensure staff and applicants are aware of the process and the criteria used.

Mr Cameron said: “NHS Borders fully accepts the recommendation of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman in this case.

“We have written to Mr A and his family with our sincere apologies. We are reviewing our procedures for funding applications and will develop our communications in line with the recommendation.”