The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has refused to investigate the death of a baby at the centre of claims of a ‘regulatory gap’
between national bodies preventing them looking into historic complaints.
Since November 2014 when the Patient Association released a report on the failings of the PHSO
, the charity has been inundated by calls, emails and letters from patients, families and representatives that have felt let down by the PHSO.
The parents of baby Elizabeth Dixon, who died in 2001, told the Health Service Journal that
their experience of the PHSO process had been a nine month “nightmare”,
with the ombudsman eventually accepting it was incapable of investigating all aspects of the case.
Elizabeth, who was born prematurely, was left with permanent brain damage after hospital staff failed to monitor or treat her high blood pressure over 15 days. Almost a year later, a newly qualified nurse failed to keep the babies’ breathing tube clear, resulting in her suffocating to death. The cause of her brain damage was only confirmed in 2013.
In October 2014 the ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said the PHSO would act to close the gap
and would consider serious historic cases, despite its usual 12 month time limit. However, it has rejected the Dixons’ complaint.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive, and Patients Association, said:
“We have identified that patients feel completely let down by the PHSO; who overlook or ignore evidence, take far too long to communicate with families, are dismissive and insensitive and leave patients feeling that they are in the wrong for raising a complaint.”