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Byline: Greg Tindle

COMPLAINTS against the NHS in Wales are on the increase, it was revealed today.

A total of 162 complaints were received by the health watchdog in the past year - an 11 per cent rise.

A lack of information and communication to relatives and family were the main grumbles with the actions of doctors at the centre of a majority of cases accepted for investigation.

In his annual report, the new combined watchdog for Welsh administration and the NHS also received 49 complaints against public bodies although only four were upheld.

Of the 162 complaints against the NHS, ombudsman Michael Buckley accepted 25 for investigation, the majority of which concerned the clinical judgement of hospital staff.

He upheld a case of confusion between doctors and nurses where the husband of a patient believed his wife was being allowed to die.

His belief followed a decision by doctors to switch intravenous feeding from her arm to a tube in her stomach.

The patient was too ill for the operation but nurses were not told of the cancellation and failed to inform the medical staff that the intravenous feeding in her arm had ceased.

"Although this period without nutrition had no significant effect on the patient's condition, the poor communication caused distress to her husband who thought his wife was being denied sustenance and being allowed to die, " said Mr Buckley.

"Although many of the cases against doctors were not upheld, sometimes the actions and judgements of doctors fell short of what patients and their relatives could reasonably expect, " he said.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 11, 2001
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