A grieving family has criticised NHS Tayside’s lack of communication after their dying relative was discharged with no one at home.
Joan Heggie, 61, was discharged from ward 32 at Ninewells Hospital on Christmas Eve to spend her last few days surrounded by her family.
However her brother David Heggie says he is angry at the lack of communication between the hospital ward and the family and wants to make sure this does not happen to other patients.
He said: “My sister, now my late sister, was in Ninewells Hospital and got discharged on Christmas Eve, which was her choice because she wanted to have her last remaining days at home in her house.
“She had breast cancer about four years ago and the cancer reappeared last year and she got radiotherapy.
“But the cancer spread to her liver, pelvis and hip and by the time she had her last scan they realised it had completely spread and there was nothing else they could do for her.
“She passed away at 3.30am on Sunday morning.
“She was a wonderful and caring sister who will be missed by all her family and friends – she had four sons and two daughters.
“Unfortunately this coincided with when my mother passed away 24 years ago so you can see why I really want some answers.
“Her care was very good up until the point she got discharged because there was no contact from any of the nursing staff when she was sent home in an ambulance, so there was no one there when she came home.
“The designated family member was working at the time even though they had pre-arranged with their work to get away when needed so someone would be in the house when my sister got home.
“She lived alone at the time and someone needed to be there to attend to her needs.”
Shortly after Christmas Day David wrote a complaint to NHS Tayside to raise his concerns about the lack of communication.
He added: “I have written to the complaints department at Ninewells and then spoke to the senior charge nurse of that ward and she said she could only apologise for what had happened.
“I worked in NHS Tayside myself at ward level so I know what procedures should happen.
“Contact with relatives is normal procedure and that was not what was done which is why I am very angry.
“There was no family at the house to let the paramedics in and they had to wait for someone to come from another part of the city.
“I want to know why this happened, how it happened and for it not to happen to any other family in this position.
“What if it had been a 90 year old who only had one living relative in the whole world and they were not contacted to say the person had been discharged from hospital?
“That would be completely distressing for the family.”
A spokesman for NHS Tayside said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Heggie and his family at this difficult time.
“Following Ms Heggie’s discharge from hospital, both the consultant oncologist and senior charge nurse in charge of her care spoke to Mr Heggie and apologised for the distress caused.
“The team will be back in touch with the family to inform them of the outcome of their review.”