NHS BORDERS has been forced to apologise to a patient after a 'failing' in mental health care.

It comes after an unhappy relative of the patient contacted the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

And although the watchdog said the person, named as ‘A’, was given treatment which was “appropriate and timely”, they did not receive a face-to-face assessment at a later stage despite “multiple concerns” about their “deteriorating behaviour”.

The report from the SPSO, published last month, stated: “‘C’ complained about the care and treatment their relative ‘A’ received from the board; in particular, about the mental health care they received at Borders General Hospital following an impulsive overdose and their subsequent community health care.

“The board’s investigation found that ‘A’s’ care and treatment was appropriate and timely. However, the board suggested exploring possible improvements in information sharing between public and private sector professionals.

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“We took independent advice from a consultant psychiatrist and a mental health adviser. We found that the hospital care and treatment, including changes to ‘A’s’ medication, were reasonable and appropriate.

“We considered that there was a shortcoming in care as there was no follow-up out-patient hospital appointment after the discharge from hospital to assess ‘A’, despite a significant change in their medication and a new diagnosis.

“However, we did not consider this was an unreasonable failing given there was a plan for care by community psychiatric nursing who would have had access to psychiatric advice as and when required. We did not uphold this complaint.

“In terms of the community mental health care, we were critical that ‘A’ did not receive a face-to-face assessment even though multiple concerns were raised by various individuals about ‘A’s’ deteriorating behaviour; and particularly given ‘A’ had not made themselves available to be seen. For this reason, we upheld this complaint.”

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The SPSO ordered NHS Borders to apologise to the patient.

It also said that “patients with community mental health team follow-up who show evidence of a significant deterioration in mental state or social circumstances, or where a significant deterioration in mental state is indicated by the expressed concerns of family or significant others, consideration should be given to having a face-to-face review and screening for presenting clinical risks/vulnerabilities”.

An NHS Borders spokesperson said: “The SPSO findings highlighted that there was a shortcoming in the care that ‘A’ received.

“We have accepted the recommendation that more consideration should be given in circumstances similar to ‘A’s’ case in future.

“We are sorry for the upset that our failings have caused ‘A’ and have offered a full apology.”