Conquest Hospital boss declares patient ‘dead’ in letter over lost file

Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-150615-132748001
Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-150615-132748001

A hospital boss who declared a patient was dead in a letter apologising for losing his medical records has said sorry.

Norah Trimmings, 61, of St Leonards, said her husband Robert, 68, is ‘very much alive and kicking’, despite a letter from East Sussex Healthcare Trust which referred to him as ‘the late’ Mr Trimmings four times.

SUS-151111-135108001

SUS-151111-135108001

Robert Trimmings was paralysed down his right side following a stroke and heart attack in 2013. Mrs Trimmings asked Conquest Hospital for his files in September 2014 but was told they were ‘missing’

“My suspicion is they destroyed the wrong file,” said Mrs Trimmings. “I wanted to have a look at his scan and the report about his heart.”

However, Mrs Trimmings said she ‘wasn’t going to let the matter drop’ and contacted Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye for help. On October 27, Ms Rudd received a letter from Richard Sunley, acting chief executive of the trust, which said: “I am very sorry that Mrs Trimmings remains unhappy with the trust’s efforts to locate her late husband’s medical records and apologise for any unnecessary distress.”

Mrs Trimmings said the trust had added ‘insult to injury by saying Robert was dead.

“I found this very upsetting because my husband is still very much alive and kicking it seems to me that because you are ‘deceased’ it doesn’t matter whether they find the file anyway and I find this a disgusting attitude to have from such a big organisation.”

Mrs Trimmings said she doesn’t understand how a file can go missing.

“They said they searched high and low,” she added

“It makes me wonder if it has got into the wrong hands.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We are profoundly sorry to Mrs Trimmings for the distress caused by incorrectly referring to her husband as ‘the late’. Despite extensive efforts we have not been able to locate his paper health records and would apologise for any unnecessary distress this has caused.”

The trust said it is bringing in an electronic tagging system for health records and also has plans to introduce an electronic document management system to make sure files are not lost in future.

Health bosses have also announced plans to move all medical records from Conquest Hospital to a storage unit in Hailsham.

Last month, hospital documents revealed the confidential records of more than 3,500 patients were found on a memory stick discovered in June.

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