£26,000 Payout after Officialdom Walks Over Pensioner and Family

The Government has been heavily criticised after a series of blunders left an elderly pensioner £26,000 worse off.

The Pension Service – part of the Department for Work and Pensions – failed to send a computerised prompt to the woman’s council that would have automatically triggered  a housing benefit claim she was entitled to. Her family who are from Essex, discovered the mistake, but were forced to spend five years battling with government officials from the Pension Service who, according to the family, had refused to correct the problem.

The Pension Service did not look at the complaint until the woman died, aged 90, and then it refused to compensate the family. The service said she had died before it had had time to consider the complaint. However, it was the agency’s own officials who had refused to deal with the complaint while she was alive, the family said.

The DWP fell back on “policy” which the pension service wrongly claimed prevented it from compensating the next of kin of people who had died. The Independent Case Examiner investigated the complaint but, to the family’s astonishment, upheld the department’s decision.

Eventually, the family turned to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which put things right, forcing the DWP to hand over the money owed plus compensation for its mistakes.Parliamentary and Health Service OmbudsmanThe Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor, said: “An elderly woman and her family were let down because of service failure and poor complaint handling.

“Our investigation upheld the complaint and recommended that both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Independent Case Examiner apologise to the family and pay her family the £26,514 plus interest that she was owed.”

The DWP also agreed to pay the family £1,000 as an apology for its mistakes, while the Independent Case Examiner paid them £250 for its part in the debacle

Read. S 2015 The Independent Daily Briefing  27/02/2015  P. 7

“This family were determined not to be ‘walked on’, as so many are, and got justice. These officials believe they are untouchable – and the country stinks with them.”

NHS compo bill doubles in 3 years

Patients won almost £5million from the NHS last year over bundled operations.

Case included blundering surgeons operating on the wrong organs and medical equipment being left inside patients.

The compensation bill for these so-called “never-events” has doubled in just three years.

Payouts have been made to patients who discovered surgeons operated on the wrong foot, leg, eye, or finger.

One person woke from their op to find all  their teeth had been removed in error.

Another had spinal surgery carried out on the wrong part of their back.

Some doctors took important biopsy samples from the wrong organs.

Other blunders saw patients having pieces of surgical equipment accidentally left inside them.

The items included clips, swabs, forceps, screws, wires and, in one case, part of a latex glove.

In total the National Health service Litigation Authority which is responsible for dealing with compensation cases from hospitals in England, said it paid out £4.8million to patients last year.

A total of  £1.7million was handed over in 21 cases where patients claimed a surgeon had operated on the wrong part of their body.

In another 144 cases, with a total compensation payout of £3.1million the NHS was successfully sued over items accidentally left inside patients.

Both types of surgical mistakes are dubbed “never events” by he NHS because they are not supposed to happen under any circumstances.

The NHS recorded 312 such events in the last year.

They included 123 incidents of objects being left in patients and 89 where the wrong part of the body was operated on.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of patients’ charity Action against Medical Accidents said: “There is no excuse at all for “never events” continuing to happen.

“Any incident like this causes an untold human cost as well as perfectly avoidable cost to the NHS which could be put to better use on patient care.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: ” As we build on our commitment  to openness and transparency we have published data on never events in greater detail than ever before.

“We have also launched a campaign to get hospitals to sign up to safety which will save 6,000 lives over the next three years.”

Nurse Donna Bowett won a six-figure sum from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals last year after doctors failed to remove a seven inch set of forceps used during surgery to take out her gallbladder.

Donna 43, was in agony for three months before an x-ray showed the instrument inside her.

Doctor scanning x-rayIf it wasn’t reality it would be a joke!