NHS Ayrshire and Arran have apologised to the widowed spouse of a patient who died at Crosshouse.

The deceased, who was not named in an inquiry into the incident, was transferred to University Hospital Crosshouse from another health board having suffered a heart attack.

But after they arrived the patient, referred to only as A, had what doctors believe was a stroke before dying a week later.

A’s widowed partner complained about the care and treatment their late spouse received, specifically about how staff communicated treatment plans and the fact that A was in a coma.

But an independent investigation did not agree with the complaint and found that NHS Ayrshire and Arran staff gave A’s spouse regular updates on their ‘condition and tried to be realistic about the likely outcome, while being supportive of [them]’.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) report stated: “We welcomed the board’s apology that the communication did not meet [the widower partner’s] needs; this showed a sensitivity to the responsibility for ongoing learning and improvement to ensure communication is tailored to the needs of individuals and their families.”

However, the SPSO investigation found there was a lack of clarity from the hospital.

A was originally treated by a different health board. Having taken advice from a consultant cardiologist (a doctor that specialises in diseases and abnormalities of the heart) and from a nurse, the report said that A’s prognosis and future treatment plan at the time of their transfer to Crosshouse not being clear may have contributed to A’s partner’s confusion and distress at the time.

Jennifer Wilson, Interim Deputy Nurse Director at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: “In order to ensure learning across the organisation, we would always seek to improve how we communicate with families, to ensure communication is tailored to the needs of individuals and their families.

“We will share the findings from the report with staff and with our clinical governance teams. “