HEALTH bosses have apologised for the care provided to an elderly former soldier from Selkirk.

John Stephen was admitted to Borders General Hospital in August 2017 because of dehydration and kidney problems.

He died three months later - covered in swollen ulcers.

The care and treatment the 95-year-old great-grandfather received in the wards infuriated his family.

Following John's death, his son David has been fighting for answers and an apology.

Last week the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman ordered NHS Borders to make that apology and also improve standards regarding elderly care and pressure ulcer prevention.

David told us: "This was a horrible experience.

"Twice they discharged my dad when he wasn't well and twice he was taken back to hospital within a few hours.

"He had kidney problems when he went in but otherwise he wasn't in too bad health for his age.

"But by the time he was discharged his legs and feet were heavily swollen and covered in sores.

"They were even worse the second time they sent him home, and he wasn't breathing properly.

"My dad wasn't one for complaining and he was happy enough when he first went into hospital but they moved him to a different ward and it all went downhill.

"He wasn't being looked after - and wanted to come home.

"But when the ambulance driver that's dropping him off is telling you they aren't sure he should be coming home you know something's wrong."

John Stephen spent almost all of his life in Selkirk.

The son of a shopkeeper, he ran his own dairy and milk delivery business for over 30 years.

The father-of-four was a member of the KOSB during World War II.

And even after the war years was an active member of the Royal Observer Corps.

Although keeping good health most of his life, he had suffered with kidney problems in his later years.

The investigating officer from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman believes John's care for gastroenteritis during his two spells at Borders General Hospital in 2017 was adequate, although they noted that clinicians had experienced difficulty in getting his fluids balanced.

A spokesperson for the watchdog said: "We found that his medical care and treatment had been reasonable and given appropriately in response to his presenting symptoms.

"Both times he had been discharged, he was fit."

But during their probe into John's nursing care they found glaring errors throughout his two spells at Borders General Hospital, which had left him with painful ulcers all over both legs.

The spokesperson added: "In relation to nursing care, we found that his nursing notes were not of the required standard.

"Similarly, relevant standards in relation to the prevention and management of pressure ulcers were not followed by nursing staff."

In its findings the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has asked NHS Borders to make sure that all if its nurses are aware of, and apply, Health Improvement Scotland standards for care of older people, and also Health Improvement Scotland standards for the prevention and management of pressure ulcers.

Nicky Berry, director of Nursing, Midwifery & Acute Services at NHS Borders, said: “We are sincerely sorry for our failings in the nursing care; this is not the level of care we expect for our patients.

"We have apologised and regret any additional upset that may have been caused during an already difficult time.

"We fully accept the SPSO recommendations.

"Since 2017 we have undertaken a significant amount of improvement work focusing on record keeping and delivering the standards of older people in hospital, in particular the prevention and management of pressure ulcers.

"We appointed a dedicated Tissue Viability Nurse who works directly with wards and delivers additional staff training sessions, which has resulted in a reduction of pressure ulcers.

"We also launched new streamlined documentation, following a review, to further support good record keeping practices.

"We are a learning organisation committed to continually developing our services and patient care to be the best that it can be.”

John Stephen died on November 14, 2017.