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NHS Grampian told to make improvements after ‘unreasonable’ diagnosis delay

NHS Grampian's headquarters in Aberdeen.
NHS Grampian's headquarters in Aberdeen.

NHS Grampian has been told to make improvements following an “unreasonable” delay to diagnosis for a patient with bladder cancer.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) has ruled the north-east health board missed opportunities to correct the issue.

The incident was brought to the watchdog’s attention by the sibling of the patient, known only as A, who later died from the illness.

The relative, identified as C, had previously complained to NHS Grampian but escalated the matter to the SPSO as they were unhappy with the health board’s response.

When investigating the complaint, the SPSO took independent advice from a consultant urological surgeon, who specialises in the male and female urinary tract.

In its decision report, the watchdog said: “We found that the board failed to carry out a general anaesthetic cystoscopy in a reasonable timescale.

“This was accepted in the board’s own complaint investigation.

“However, we considered there were opportunities to pick up and correct the delay which were missed.”

The procedure would involve passing a thin viewing tube – cystoscope – along the urethra to allow medics to see inside the bladder.

It upheld C’s complaint regarding the delay.

A similar judgement was made regarding the lack of a follow-up appointment after their relative noticed symptoms following a botox injection.

The watchdog described it as a “failing”.

During the investigation, the SPSO considered a claim the health board had not reasonably managed A’s pain.

While it found the health board did not inquire about any pain they may have been feeling, it also noted the patient had not reported any.

It said: “We found that, overall, the board’s responses to C’s complaint were accurate and the board took action to discuss C’s concerns at a meeting and provide explanations as to what happened during A’s care.

“While there were delays in responding to C’s contact, the board reasonably responded to the complaint.”

NHS Grampian has been told to keep people with a “potential malignancy” moving through the system, “even where staffing and capacity issues exist,” and to provide procedure-specific patient information leaflets.

A health board spokeswoman said: “We have accepted and acted upon the ombudsman’s recommendations in this case.”

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