Father of disabled son claims Swansea hospital staff intimidating family over care concerns

  • By Swansea Correspondent Dean Thomas-Welch and Health Reporter Katie Fenton

The family of a severely disabled boy in Swansea have made new claims they are being subjected to intimidation, harassment and poor care by senior nurses by their local health board.

Nizar Dahan's son Weeam has a rare autoimmune condition that prevents his body from fighting off infections and requires around-the-clock care.

The two-year-old spent seven months receiving specialist treatment at Noah's Ark Children's Hospital in Cardiff before he was transferred to Morriston Hospital in Swansea last month.

But Mr Dahan said that since his son has been under the care of Swansea Bay University Health Board, the standard of treatment has dropped and care decisions have "put his life at risk".

He claims that when raising concerns about this, senior nurses have intimidated him and his wife, made false allegations against them, and made comments about their social media posts complaining about Weeam's treatment.

It comes less than 18 months after the Chief Executive of SBUHB described the conduct of senior nurses towards families of disabled children as "completely unacceptable" after the publication of a damning external review. 

Swansea Bay University Health Board has apologised after hearing about Mr Dahan's concerns over Weeam's care.

'Anything as basic as a common cold will kill him'

Mr Dahan claims the intimidation started after he complained about nurses wrongly administering milk and medication to Weeam.

He told ITV Wales: "Everyone makes mistakes, but it's about what happens when a mistake is made and how the situation is rectified, that's the problem.

"At Morriston Hospital it seems to be cover-up: 'it didn't happen, it's fine, it's okay', and then they flip it and make out that me and my wife are the aggressors and are intimidating.

"They are trying to silence us, but for my son's safety, health and future prospects of living, I'm not going to be silenced and I won't be intimidated by anything or anyone."

Mr Dahan claims senior nurses at Morriston Hospital have responded to his care concerns with intimidation and harassment towards the family.

Mr Dahan has praised the standard of care given to his son by specialists in Cardiff.

He claims that SBUHB promised the family a place on a sterile ward and specialist equipment - but said those promises have not been kept.

"With an autoimmune disease, anything as basic as a common cold will kill him," he said.

"We have come back and we are on an infectious ward where there are 17 other patients.

"Me and my wife are sharing a toilet with 30 other parents in that building, with bacteria, with other infections.

"These are all things that jeopardise my son's safety and put him at risk of fatality. It's not that he's going to get a cold, he could die.

"By highlighting these situations, issues and concerns I was called difficult by a matron. Imagine that? You're being called difficult for advocating for what's best for your son."

The Channon family have previously raised concerns over intimidation and bullying within Swansea Bay University Health Board.

Robert and Sian Channon, from Swansea, first blew the whistle on claims of intimidation, bullying and harassment by senior nurses within another service run by Swansea Bay University Health Board in 2021.

They claimed care was removed for their son, anonymous and bogus social service reports were made against them and police officers were sent to their home when they complained on social media.

Four-year-old Gethin, who has severe brain damage, was being cared for by the Children's Community Nursing Service (CCNS).

The Channons, along with other families of disabled children in Swansea, gave evidence to an external review in 2022.

It uncovered that parents felt they were being sanctioned by senior nurses if they complained about the service. 

'It's very upsetting that other families are having to go through it after everything we fought for'

The health board responded to the review by apologising to the families involved and promised to make changes.

But Mr Channon said these fresh claims show that may not have happened.

"It's just completely unacceptable," he said.

"I think it shows there is a bigger cultural problem at the health board. If you speak out or complain or post anything on social media the culture within the organisation is to go after you.

"That should have stopped almost two years ago, but it is still going on obviously and it's very upsetting that other families are having to go through it after everything we fought for."

ITV Wales approached the Chief Executive of SBUHB for an interview, but instead received a statement.

A spokesperson said: "Our staff are committed to providing compassionate and good quality care, which is why we were very sorry to hear about the concerns raised by Mr Dahan last week, which are being looked into as part of our formal complaints process. 

"We recognise how important parental insight and input are in ensuring the holistic, wrap-around care of children with complex needs.

"We hope that our ongoing communications with the family over the past week are now helping to develop that relationship more positively."

Mr Dahan praised care provided by the "vast majority" of nurses at Morriston Hospital.

Since sharing his story with ITV Wales, Mr Dahan said senior management at the health board have met with the family and given assurances that Weeam's care will improve.

He said the "vast majority" of nurses providing treatment to his son at Morriston Hospital are "helpful and caring", adding that many of the problems his family are facing come from senior nurses at the hospital.

However, he said he is still angry that his family have been "targeted" for complaining.

"We feel like criminals," he said. 

"They have put us in a dirty ward and it's almost like we are left there. The specialist in Cardiff would come in regularly, now if we ring the bell sometimes they take quite a while because two people have to come in, and one person has to watch.

"My wife feels very intimidated by it.

"We need answers now, we need something done now, my son needs to be given the best care available to him and that’s the health board's responsibility."