NHS Tayside has apologised to a man after it failed to recognise that a delayed terminal cancer diagnosis made his wife’s final days harder to bear.
The health board made the apology on the orders of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) after it was contacted by a local man, who was named in a report as Mr C.
His wife, named only as Mrs A, died of pancreatic cancer.
Mr C complained to the ombudsman that his wife’s diagnosis had been delayed as her cancer was only detected after three scans.
NHS Tayside had acknowledged his complaint, but initially told him the illness had been difficult to detect and “had not affected (the) outcome” for his wife.
Investigating officers at the SPSO consulted independent experts in radiology and the treatment of tumours.
While they agreed with the NHS’s conclusion that the cancer had been hard to detect, they believe the health board did not properly acknowledge the effect this had on Mr C and his wife. The ombudsman said: “We found that while Mrs A had three scans, it was not until after the third scan that her diagnosis was made.
“However, we confirmed that her symptoms had been subtle and that there could be up to a 20% failure rate in detection.
“We did not uphold the complaint.
“However, we made a recommendation as the delay had not been without consequences.
“Had Mrs A’s illness been picked up earlier, then she would have had earlier access to end of life care which may have made her final months easier to bear.
“We considered that there had been an insufficient recognition of this.”
Following its investigation, the SPSO ordered NHS Tayside to apologise to Mr C for failing to recognise the consequences of the delayed diagnosis.
The health board was also told to apologise for an “unreasonable” delay in responding to his initial complaint before it was referred to the SPSO.
An NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “We have apologised to the family and have actioned the recommendations in the report.”