Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Ombudsman criticises 3 year wait for kidney surgery.
The “unacceptable delays” experienced by an 11-year-old boy waiting for a kidney operation have been criticised by the Public Health Ombudsman for Wales.
The ombudsman, Nick Bennett, said it was likely that the boy’s human rights had been compromised "due to the impact on both his physical and mental wellbeing.”
The boy, Ethan Matthews, from Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, who was told an infected abscess on his side had left him needing the operation, faced three years in pain – until he was 14 in May 2017 - not knowing when he would have urgent surgery to remove his kidney
The ombudsman’s report said health officials had agreed to apologise and adopt recommendations.
The ombudsman's report into the delay said Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales did not tell the referring hospital that it could not meet treatment targets in this case, denying the opportunity for alternatives to be considered.
Mr Bennett said: "This is a shocking series of events where an 11-year-old child was unable to thrive for almost three years because of totally unacceptable delays.
"It has clearly been a dreadful experience for this young boy and his family and it is likely his human rights have been compromised due to the impact on both his physical and mental wellbeing, and the extent of suffering he has endured."
Ethan Matthews was told his left kidney had become non-functioning after scans at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen in June 2014.
He was fitted with a tract in his side after suffering from a build up of fluid and visited his GP up to three times a week to have dressings changed prior to the surgery last year.
He was referred to a consultant at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and put on an urgent waiting list for his kidney to be removed.
But despite constant calls to the hospital - including to the chief executive - an appointment never came.
His father, Robert Matthew’s said his son missed out on a normal childhood for nearly three years.
He said: "We had to ban Ethan and stop him from taking part in any contact sport, no football, no rugby, even general horseplay out with his mates. He couldn't do it.”
He said he was told the wound on Ethan's side would not heal until his kidney was removed - and during the three years it constantly became infected.
Mr Matthews, who said he felt vindicated by the Ombudsman’s report after writing to complain about the delay, added: "He spent two years taking antibiotics to combat the infection in his side all the time. We were taking him back and forth to the GP's surgery to change the dressing and to monitor it every week.
"He did get upset on numerous occasions with his side and there was nothing you could do. The only thing he could have done was to have his operation and we couldn't get it done."
Eventually, after two and a half years of waiting, as well as getting his local assembly member involved, Mr Matthews spoke out about his son's plight in the media as a last resort.
He said: "Lo and behold, the day after it was broadcast we had a date for his operation. We were so overjoyed and relieved he would finally get his operation."
Ethan, who finally had the nine-hour kidney removal operation in May 2017, added: "It's a really good feeling that I can actually live a normal life again, playing sports and going out with my friends.”
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it wanted to convey its "sincere apologies" for the distress caused to Ethan and his family.
A spokesman said: "We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the patient and their relatives to convey our apologies and provide some assurance with regard to the much improved referral to treatment time performance and the ongoing monitoring of the waiting lists."