Health Board apologises after patients removed from surgery waiting lists by mistake

A report by the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales has raised concerns about how the whole waiting list at Swansea Bay University Health Board have been managed.  Credit: PA Images

A Welsh health board has apologised after three patients were taken off of the orthopaedic surgery waiting lists in error.

A report by the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales has raised concerns about how the whole waiting list at Swansea Bay University Health Board has been managed. 

The health board said it has accepted the report's recommendations in full and they will be implemented over the next few weeks.

The Welsh Government says it expects Swansea Bay to implement the recommendations as soon as possible.

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales does not oversee health boards as a whole but investigates complaints made by members of the public.

Swansea Bay University Health Board says it accepts the report's recommendations.

One patient, referred to as Mrs B in the report, was taken off the waiting list for her right hip despite only receiving treatment on her left.

Another, referred to as Mr C, waited more than three-and-a-half years in severe pain after being removed from the waiting list and also having his position reset.

Mr D, the third and final complainant in the report, was removed from the waiting list when he missed surgical appointments because he was in hospital undergoing treatment for another illness.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Michelle Morris, said: “While patients are waiting for surgery on the list, they should be treated fairly in relation to the management of their place on that list, how they are communicated with about the time it is likely to take to receive treatment and to have their expectations fairly managed.

"Patients who are already facing lengthy waiting times should feel able to rely on the Health Board to manage the waiting list well and in accordance with the waiting list guidelines.

"These three cases demonstrate clear injustice to the patients. In addition to these failings, the complainants had the unnecessary stress and pain of pre-operative assessments.  

"I am concerned that there appears to have been no thought for the impact of these on the patients’ wellbeing."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The health board has accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations in full and we expect them to implement these as soon as possible."

In response to the report, Swansea Bay University Health Board said: "We sincerely apologise to the three patients whose orthopaedic surgery was delayed because of failings in the way their appointments were managed.

"We have accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations in full and they will be implemented over the next few weeks.

"We can confirm that all three patients have now received their operations. We are checking our orthopaedic waiting lists to ensure there are no other similar cases, and if there are, we will again urgently expedite their care.

"Along with scrutinising our orthopaedic waiting lists, additional staff training is in place to ensure referral to treatment time rules are followed.

"Our orthopaedic services are under huge pressure, and we are doing all we can to tackle waiting lists, including launching the new orthopaedic theatre hub at Neath Port Talbot Hospital seven months ago."

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Today's report is the latest in a number of difficult headlines for the people who rely on Swansea Bay University Health Board's services.

Families were left "sickened" after a report by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) revealed "stomach-turning" concerns about Singleton Hospital's maternity services.

Many of the issues uncovered in the HIW report were first raised in a Wales This Week documentary in October.

HIW listed several concerns including one emergency theatre space being described as 'unfit for purpose' and pain relief was 'not always timely'.

It also says there were around 300 reports of incidents 'without proper evidence that lessons have been learned'.

Swansea Bay University Health Board says it is "already focused on making the improvements" it has agreed with HIW and is "committed to learning from the feedback".

Last month, it was announced an independent review into the health board's maternity and neonatal services.

On Tuesday (23 January), Wales' Health Minister told the Senedd Swansea Bay UHB was one of three health boards facing an escalation in the monitoring of its services.

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