Unacceptable waiting times led to death of Welsh man


We reported in early February the stark differences between surgery waiting times in Wales, compared with those in England.

This week the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales ruled that the death of Gareth Lewis Jones in March 2013 could have been avoided had he not been waiting nearly twice the recommended time for heart surgery.

Mr Jones had adult congenital heart disease (ACHD). Abertawe Bro Morgannwg left Mr Jones on a waiting list for surgery almost 1 year and failed to warn him of symptoms of deterioration to watch out for which would have alerted his family to the fact that he needed urgent treatment in the days before his death.

The Ombudsman identified that the Welsh Government Referral to Treatment (RTT) for this type of surgery is 26 weeks and had Mr Jones received treatment within this timescale, he would not have died. Ombudsman Nick Bennett said

It is completely unacceptable that he waited nearly twice this time.

Overall the Ombundsman found that there was a general lack of urgency for treatment for ACHD patients within the health board as a whole and indeed previous “near miss” cases for patients awaiting this type of surgery should have been regarded as warnings for the need to take action. He made recommendations to the board to address the waiting times for ACHD patients in order to ensure that history was not repeated.

The ABMU health board confirmed that they had accepted the recommendations made by the Ombudsman and put in place several important changes over the past 3 years with management and processes supporting those patients affected being considerably tightened.

If you or your family have been affected by any clinical negligence, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team on 0800 316 8892 who will be able to advise you further.