20th September 2019

NHS errors appear to be on the rise. We learn this week that more than 600 patients have suffered due to serious NHS errors. The errors are reported as “never events” meaning that they are so serious they should never happen. A total of 629 of these never events occurred from April 2018 to July 2019 across NHS hospitals. The press association back in 2015 reported that around 300 never events occurred over the course of a year. It is therefore very alarming to see that figures just released suggest there has been a doubling in the number.

The errors include doctors operating on the wrong body parts with examples given of a woman having a lump removed from the wrong breast, two women having biopsies taken from their cervix rather than their colon and 6 women having their ovaries removed during hysterectomy putting them into early menopause. The report includes the wrong toes being amputated. There are also examples of some patients having procedures that were intended for other patients. We can all expect the odd mistake to happen but when they appear to be as basic as the examples given it is really difficult to understand how they continue to occur and secondly and more worryingly appear to be on the increase in frequency.

The purpose of keeping these records is apparently to improve learning so that errors are reduced or wiped out completely but sadly they are clearly not achieving that goal. For decades a separate NHS Body has been in existence to also look at gathering information on errors to ensure learning occurs, but nothing seems to change. There is pressure on the NHS as a whole but it is unacceptable for such basic and serious mistakes to be on the rise.

These types of errors on the operating table and in our hospitals can be devastating for the patient and their families having on many occasions lifelong and life changing implications.

Our clinical negligence team not only assist victims of medical negligence with advice concerning potential claims, but we also assist patients in raising complaints about treatment. If you think you or anybody you know has been affected by medical negligence or mistakes you may find it useful to contact the team on 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk.

I just hope these shocking statistics bring about some action to reduce such events, so people’s lives are not affected in the future.

Blog by Andrew Kelly, Partner