• Case ref:
  • Date:
    June 2019
  • Body:
    Golden Jubilee National Hospital
  • Sector(s):
  • Subject:
    communication / staff attitude / dignity / confidentiality
  • Outcome:
    Upheld, recommendations


Mrs C complained on behalf of her husband (Mr A). Mrs C said Mr A had undergone an operation on his heart, which they had believed would be routine and uncomplicated. Mr A suffered serious complications during the surgery, resulting in a long period of recuperation and life altering consequences. Mrs C said they accepted that what had happened was a recognised risk of the surgery, however, she complained that Mr A had not been provided with adequate information during the consent process. Mrs C felt her complaint had been poorly handled, and although the board had apologised to Mr A, Mrs C was unhappy with this response.

We took independent medical advice. We found that Mr A was not provided with sufficient information during the complaints process. The advice also stated that the board needed to ensure that consent was taken early enough to allow patients to consider properly the potential complications and risks associate with their surgery. We found that the board's response to the complaint was reasonable in terms of practical solutions to the failings identified, but that they had not fully accepted responsibility for the failings, which devalued the apologies they offered. We upheld both aspects of Mrs C's complaint.


What we asked the organisation to do in this case:

  • Apologise to Mr A for failing to obtain his informed consent. The apology should meet the standards set out in the SPSO guidelines on apology available at www.spso.org.uk/leaflets-and-guidance.

What we said should change to put things right in future:

  • Ensure the boards consent process allows (where practical) for a reasonable period of time between consent being given and a surgical procedure being undertaken.

We have asked the organisation to provide us with evidence that they have implemented the recommendations we have made on this case by the deadline we set.