The family of a man who passed away due to a delayed surgery has deemed the apology from Sussex NHS trust as insincere.

The family of a man who passed away due to a delayed surgery has deemed the apology from Sussex NHS trust as insincere.

The relatives of a man who passed away due to a 12-hour delay in his surgery are urging for reforms within a struggling NHS organization. This comes after regulators raised concerns regarding patient well-being and prolonged wait times.

The surgery department at Royal Sussex county hospital in Brighton was upgraded from “inadequate” to “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). However, this upgrade comes amidst a police investigation into numerous patient deaths, as well as accusations of negligence and concealment.

The regulator expressed worry in their report on Wednesday about the increasing wait times, frequent cancellations of operations, and inadequate staffing that could potentially jeopardize safety.

The Guardian has released information that the trust apologized and reached a settlement with the family of Ralph Sims, who passed away at the age of 65 after undergoing heart surgery in April 2019. This was due to doctors not responding appropriately to a decrease in his blood pressure.

After months of refusing to admit fault, the trust’s apology was deemed insincere by his family.

After undergoing a surgical procedure to replace an aortic valve, Sims, an enthusiastic runner, experienced a decrease in blood pressure and developed an abnormal heart rhythm eight hours later at the hospital.

After conducting an internal inquiry into Sims’ care, it was determined that the hospital employees did not properly understand the importance of the decrease in blood pressure.

The NHS foundation trust at University Hospitals Sussex acknowledged that the man with three children should have gone back into surgery to determine the reason for his decline. However, instead of doing so, doctors opted to monitor him overnight.

Because of another urgent situation, Sims did not receive an angiogram until shortly before noon the next day, which was 12 hours after experiencing a drop in blood pressure. This delay resulted in permanent damage to his heart muscle, which could have been prevented, and ultimately led to his death five weeks later.

The family stated that the trust should prioritize following guidelines and protocols. They also noted that the staff did not contact the surgeon who performed the surgery, did not send Ralph for an angiogram in a timely manner, and did not seek advice from the on-call consultant who was located 14 miles away in Worthing. If these actions had been taken, the outcome could have been significantly different.

The statement stated: “Although the trust has expressed regret to our family, it feels insincere. Ralph’s passing was completely avoidable, and despite the problems in his treatment, it took the trust many years to apologize.”

Thomas Riis-Bristow, an expert attorney in cases of medical malpractice at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the family, stated: “The trust has acknowledged concerning shortcomings. Time is of the essence in cardiac surgery, and the longer reduced blood flow goes untreated, the greater the damage to the heart muscle over time. Sadly, in Ralph’s situation, if he had received proper care, his death could have been prevented entirely.”

It is uncertain whether Sims’ passing is among the 40+ hospital fatalities currently under investigation by Sussex police as a part of Operation Bramber.

Neil Cox, the deputy director of operations in the southern region for the CQC, cautioned the trust that they would face enforcement measures if they did not make rapid improvements.

He stated that although there were improvements in certain aspects, there were still lingering issues. He believes that leaders need to address these issues with a greater sense of urgency.

There was a significant lack of communication and collaboration between staff and senior leaders, which was negatively impacting the level of care provided to service users.

Despite efforts by the trust to assist employees in speaking out, there were ongoing reports of bullying and decreased staff morale due to feeling unheard.

The leaders of the organization received negative feedback from the Royal College of Surgeons for creating a hostile work environment and promoting an atmosphere of intimidation for employees.

“The CQC identified indications of significant strengths,” stated George Findlay, chief executive of University Hospitals Sussex trust.

He stated that the CQC discovered numerous areas where improvements need to be made, such as maintaining more consistent records, providing better training, managing the stress on overworked staff, improving the overall culture, and encouraging colleagues to speak up in certain hospitals. He acknowledged these challenges and assured that they are diligently working towards resolving them.

The trust has not yet made a statement regarding the Sims settlement.