NHS errors have had a “devastating impact” on every generation from the cradle to the grave, a new report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman reveals.
New cases published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman have exposed potentially avoidable deaths and patients suffering needless harm in the country’s hospitals.
The 161 summaries of investigations carried out between April and June this year included several complaints about incorrect discharges from hospitals, and failings in diagnosis of cancer.
One complaint investigated concerned Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust where a man died following a liver biopsy.
The investigation found he had an inadequate care plan, was incorrectly discharged from A&E and that he did not consent to the biopsy.
Before his death, he was not properly monitored after the procedure, was given the wrong medicine and the trust lost his clinical records.
In another case a man was inappropriately discharged from a Bedford Hospital Trust A&E complaining of nausea, vomiting and constipation lasting three days.
The following day he was admitted to hospital where surgery revealed he had suffered a complete loss of blood supply to his small intestine.
One woman was told after surgery at Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust she had stomach and bowel cancer and would need treatment and tests. However no tests were arranged and a surgical consultant told her she did not have cancer.
Five weeks later, the same consultant told her she did in fact have the disease.
A man suffered a fatal heart attack and stroke while on holiday after doctors at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation, to whom he complained of chest pain, failed to tell him he was at risk of a heart attack and early death if he flew.
In another case, a woman was forced to give birth at home with no medical support after a student midwife at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation turned her away from the maternity ward after wrongly believing she was not in established labour.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said these investigations showed the “devastating impact” failures in public services can have on the lives of individuals and their families.
She said: “A shocking case that stood out was that of a one-day-old baby who suffered permanent brain damage at Barts Health Trust in London because a nurse and two doctors made serious mistakes during a blood transfusion.
“We are increasingly concerned about patients being discharged unsafely from hospital. Unplanned admissions and readmissions are a massive cost to the NHS.
“We are publishing these summaries so public services, MPs and members of the public can see the different types of complaints we look into, our findings and recommendations.
“I hope this will give people with concerns about the service they have received the confidence to come to us to complain. We also want to provide valuable lessons for public services, and show how complaining makes a positive difference to them.”
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is the final step for people who want to complain about being treated unfairly or receiving poor service from the NHS in England, or a UK government department or agency.
The Ombudsman service investigated 2,199 cases in 2013-14 compared to 384 in the previous financial year.
Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: “This catalogue of poor care shows an NHS heading in the wrong direction. Hospitals are full to bursting - struggling to admit or discharge patients - and these reports make clear there isn’t enough staff to cope.
“Under David Cameron, half of nurses say their ward is dangerously understaffed. Labour will invest an extra £2.5bn to recruit 20,000 more nurses and help hospitals to provide safer care.
“By wasting £3bn on a reorganisation, David Cameron is making care problems more likely, not less. It is proof you can’t trust him with the NHS.”