NHS Trust 'Lets Down' Pancreatitis Patient

Somerset County Council And Somerset Partnership NHS Trust 'Let Down' A Man With Pancreatitis


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A seriously ill man with pancreatitis was let down by the NHS, which left him to administer his own medication, according to his mother.

Andrew Prentice suffered from the disease for more than 20 years and it had a serious effect on his life, causing him to lose his home and job - as well as his wife.

This caused him to fall into a deep depression and the once promising sportsman struggled to carry out everyday tasks, reports the Daily Mail.

After years of suffering from the effects of pancreatitis, he died following an overdose of prescription drugs in July 2009 at the age of 38.

While the coroner in the case recorded an open verdict because it was impossible to tell whether he had meant to commit suicide, his mother claimed he was often confused about the dosages he was supposed to take.

In many cases he forgot whether he had taken his prescription medication and his mother argues Somerset County Council and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust should have helped him to take his medicine.

But now Brenda Prentice, one of Andrew's parents, has received the backing of two ombudsmen, which claim that not enough was done to assist him with his complicated prescription.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: "This tragic case highlights the importance of joined-up care. It is crucial that the NHS and local authorities communicate with each other to ensure patients' needs are met.

"One missed opportunity by staff can lead to tragic consequences. Staff need to feel empowered to intervene and alert others when they have concerns about a patient."

A spokesperson for Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust offered its condolences to Brenda Prentice for her son's death, but added it has now made "considerable" progress on assisting people with chronic illnesses to take their medication.

Somerset County Council said it was considering the report and would comment once it had established a position.

Expert Opinion
This is a tragic case and as the ombudsman says, highlights the importance of ensuring communication is clear and that prescriptions are understood by clients and other organisations if necessary so that there are no mix-ups.

“Although there are still unknowns in this particular case - we’ve seen many cases involving negligence where prescriptions are concerned and it is crucial in these instances that the errors and solutions to preventing them in future are shared throughout the whole NHS."
Julie Lewis, Partner