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Michelle Woolls is surprised by low figures released from the National Patient Safety Agency

In April 2010, the government introduced a statutory duty to report mistakes and near misses to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), which collects a database of information to spot trends and patterns and issue warnings to prevent similar problems from recurring time and again. NPSA figures released recently show an 8.5 per cent increase in the total number of reported incidents in the NHS in England, between April to September 2010 and October to March 2011. The reporting and analysing of patient safety incidents to NPSA is intended to help reduce the risk in healthcare by enabling NHS Trusts to learn from past mistakes.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of the charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA), said many Trusts were still failing to own up to such incidents despite the duty introduced in April 2010, requiring them to do so. Mr Walsh believes if all trusts were reporting as they should, the rise would be larger still.
Only 1% of reported incidents were said to result in death or serious harm, but my experience alone certainly contradicts this figure. I act for several victims medical negligence where serious harm or even death has occurred so I am surprised by such a low figure being reported. Any sign that the NHS is adopting a more open approach to medical accidents is welcome, but I am inclined to agree with Mr Walsh that there is still a lot of work to be done.Michelle Woolls is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.