East Anglian hospitals have the highest number of ‘Never Events’ in the country according to data released by NHS England for 2014-15.
‘Never Events’ are “serious largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures had been implemented”.
Colchester Hospital was found to have the highest number of never events in the country, with nine such occurrences, up from eight in 2013-4. Five of these cases involved items being left inside patients, one involved a "wrong implant" and three involved "wrong site" surgery cases.
The Trust also recorded 420 serious incidents in the same year. Mid Essex recorded seven such events, and Kings Lynn Hospital, six. The three Trusts are amongst the top eight hospitals in the country for such events, resulting in East Anglia recording 22 never events last year - the highest region nationally.
The NHS data comes on the back of the Care Quality Commission report of February 2015 which found that Mid Essex Hospitals were employing unqualified staff to provide vital clinical roles; the BBC revelations that untrained staff were putting patient safety at risk across East Anglia by being asked to perform complex procedures for which they had no training; and the current Police investigation of Colchester Hospital regarding potential manipulation of data relating to cancer treatment.
The NHS 2014 Never Event list included 25 serious errors, which should never happen. These range from doctors operating on the wrong body site (such as operating on the wrong knee), retained products (such as leaving surgical swabs or instruments inside patients); through to not monitoring/responding to oxygen levels - which can obviously be fatal.
Whilst the NHS may be trying to improve patient safety, their statistics show an increase of basic preventable errors which should have been avoided through effective training/monitoring and simple measures such as counting all swabs/instruments before and after surgery.
The NHS is a world leader in some elements of care and support but unfortunately any rise in the number of basic errors raises serious concerns which need to be addressed to improve patient safety and standards across the board.
Tim Deeming is a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for anyone suffering from the effects of clinical and medical negligence.