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Healthcare Ombudsman case summaries of investigations into poor medical care


    The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has published summaries of 126 investigations of complaints made to them regarding poor medical care and medical negligence in the NHS between April and June 2014.

    By Kerstin Kubiak

At the end of October 2014 the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) published an on-line dossier of the 126 cases they investigated between April and June 2014. Their investigations focused on complaints made by patients who said they had received poor medical care from the NHS and who were unable to resolve their complaints directly with the GP or Hospital Trust involved.  Many of the case reports were very distressing to read.

One of the saddest examples of medical negligence by a hospital Trust was the story of a one day old baby who was being cared for by staff at Barts Health NHS Trust in London because he had severe jaundice. The baby required an emergency blood transfusion, however this complex procedure in a neonate was not properly undertaken and she suffered a severe period of hypotension as more blood was taken out than was replaced. This very serious error caused the baby to suffer heart failure and subsequently severe brain damage, due to oxygen deprivation. Her brain injury was so serious that she will require care for the rest of her life. The Ombudsman ensured a root cause analysis and learning process was undertaken by the Trust and a full apology was offered to the family.

This is only one example of many on the PHSO website and makes for very sad reading that such episodes of medical malpractice still take place, particularly as in the case above the care was supervised by a senior doctor.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “These investigations highlight the devastating impact failures in public services can have on the lives of individuals and their families.”


Whilst the PHSO cannot impose any sanctions or punishments in cases where medical negligence has occurred it provides, if done correctly and in good time, a method of public accountability for healthcare providers.  It is also an opportunity for individuals or families affected by medical negligence to have their voice heard, questions answered and to have their complaint independently verified and upheld.

I wrote in my previous blog that concerns have been raised recently as to the efficiency and effectiveness of the PHSO, which is worrying, but at present the PHSO remains the only additional route to direct concerns about poor medical care to.

Making a complaint

When making a complaint about medical care it is important to ensure you make yourself clear so that your issue can be properly heard and responded to, see my previous blog about making complaints about poor medical care.

In the alternative many people seek the advice of a specialist medical negligence solicitor to give further help and support as to options available.  Please contact me or one of my colleagues if you would like further advice on this.

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