A hospital trust has been fined for failing to be open and transparent with the bereaved family of a 91-year-old woman in the first prosecution of its kind.
Elsie Woodfield died at Derriford hospital in Plymouth after suffering a perforated oesophagus during an endoscopy.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) took University Hospitals Plymouth NHS trust to court under duty of candour regulations, accusing it of not being open with Woodfield’s family about her death and not apologising in a timely way.
Judge Joanna Matson was told Woodfield’s daughter Anna Davidson eventually received a letter apologising over her mother’s death, which happened in December 2017, but she felt it lacked remorse.
Davidson said she still had many unanswered questions and found it “impossible to grieve”.
The judge said: “This offence is a very good example of why these regulatory offences are very important. Not only have [the family] had to come to terms with their tragic death, but their loss has been compounded by the trust’s lack of candour.”
Speaking afterwards, Nigel Acheson, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “All care providers have a duty to be open and transparent with patients and their loved ones, particularly when something goes wrong, and this case sends a clear message that we will not hesitate to take action when that does not happen."
Lenny Byrne, the trust’s chief nurse, issued a “wholehearted apology” to Woodfield’s family. “We pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the duty of candour and fully accept the court’s decision. We have made significant changes in our processes.”
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Source: The Guardian, 23 September 2020