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NHS Censorship

Nic Hart

When a loved one dies in tragic circumstances whilst in the care of an NHS specialist team, it seems natural to want to know the reasons why, ask questions and also consider if others are still at risk.

Part of this process is to find the facts, look into what actually happened and read through the medical records. 

Over 18 months ago, I asked for Averil's complete medical records. I was told that they would be forthcoming under the "Access to Health Records Act, 1990". After a lot of chasing around, I was finally given a brief set of medical records which contained numerous gaps in Averil's care.

These gaps in Averil's records were crucial to our complaint and to finding out the truth behind Averil's death.

After a lot of investigation, it appears that the lead clinician Dr. Jane Shapleske and head of the CPFT / NCEDS team looking after Averil had been responsible for censoring the medical records, removing many important documents from those that we were given.

How is it that the team responsible for Averil's death can be given the task of deciding what documents Averil's family can be allowed to see ... hiding the truth for as long as possible ?

Sadly, it seems as if those clinicians under the spotlight in a review can just censor medical records with no fear of disciplinary action of any sort, even if it leads to increased risk for future patients as well as untold stress for the family of the deceased.

Nineteen months after Averil's death we have now been promised by the lead clinician at CPFT that we will be given the complete set of medical records relating to Averil's care ...... but we are still waiting and can only wonder at how many of the records will still be there ?


Is it any wonder that trust in the NHS complaints process is in tatters for so many people, it seems as if the only way to improve things for the future is to expose these underhand practices in order to get reforms and make change.