INVESTIGATORS have told a hospital to review nursing care on the frontline after finding a dying patient was treated with a "lack of compassion" and left in pain.

The man with terminal lung cancer and other health problems was so distressed by his treatment at Borders General, where nurses would not give him his own pain medication, he discharged himself.

He died, aged 55, three days later and his wife has said his last days were "blighted" by what had happened.

She asked the Scottish Public Services Ombudusman to investigate. Their report describes the nursing care the patient received in Borders General medical assessment unit (MAU) as "unacceptable and poor practice". It goes on to call for "a review of nursing in the MAU to explore the leadership and culture within the ward."

The patient, identified only as Mr A in the report, went to Borders General with a heavy nose bleed and severe pain last September. He was first seen in the accident and emergency department where the oxygen equipment at his bedside, which he was given to help his breathlessness, was not working.

Later that evening he was moved to the MAU. There, Mr A's wife said her husband "asked nursing staff three times for morphine for pain relief because he was in 'agony'". She also said the nurses refused to give him the pain medication he had brought in with him because it was not in the original packets.

According to NHS Borders, Mr A did ask for pain relief when he arrived in the MAU at 9pm, but this could not be given because it had not been prescribed by a doctor. Mr A only got medication more than two hours later after an assessment was carried out.

The board also said the nurses could not dispense the drugs Mr A had with him as they were not labelled, and quoted to the ombudsman Nursing and Midwifery Council standards.

An expert nursing adviser told the investigation the staff should have used a well known scoring system to chart Mr A's pain in the MAU and said they failed to "assess, monitor and alleviate Mr A's pain".

Evelyn Rodger, director of nursing, midwifery and acute services for NHS Borders, said it accepted the recommendations in full.

She added: “We have apologised to the patient’s family for the distress caused.

“We recognise and regret the aspects of the patient’s medical care and treatment that did not meet expected standards and will take what has been learned from this experience to improve our services in the future."