978 Serious Incidents reported within Essex NHS Trusts last year

Data obtained by medical negligence solicitors Blackwater Law reveals 978 Serious Incidents were reported in Essex NHS Trusts from the period April 2016 – March 2017. The figures were obtained directly from 9 Trusts* following a Freedom of Information Act (2000) request.

What is a serious incident?

A Serious Incident is defined by the NHS as “acts or omissions in care that result in; unexpected or avoidable death, unexpected or avoidable injury resulting in serious harm – including those where the injury required treatment to prevent death or serious harm, abuse, Never Events, incidents that prevent (or threaten to prevent) an organisation’s ability to continue to deliver an acceptable quality of healthcare services and incidents that cause widespread public concern resulting in a loss of confidence in healthcare services” as a result there is no definitive list of what a Serious Incident constitutes.

Breakdown of Serious Incident by Trust

The table below illustrates the number of Serious Incidents across each of the Trusts across Essex from April 2016 – March 2017:

 Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust  209
 Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust 109
 Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust  130
 East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust  95
 Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust  111
 North Essex University Partnership NHS Foundation Trust  97
 South Essex University Partnership NHS Foundation Trust  71
 Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  130
 The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust  26

The overall number of Serious Incidents is down 6% compared to the same period in 2015-2016

However over 4000 Serious Incidents have been recorded at Essex NHS Trusts from the period March 2013-March 2017.

Types of Serious Incident

Not all Trusts supplied a breakdown of incident type, however amongst those that did, the three most common incidents were:

  • Delays
  • Pressure Sores
  • Falls/slips

Other incidents included:

  • Lost specimens
  • Wrong diagnosis
  • Equipment failure
  • Infection

17 of the 978 incidents were classified as Never Events due to their severity. Never Events occur when an incident is so serious that it has the potential to cause serious patient harm or death, despite each event being entirely preventable.

Further analysis

Serious Incident data is not published publicly but may be an indicator as to the overall level of care provided by each of the separate Trusts. In certain cases it may be that the mistake or error constitutes medical negligence. As this data shows, one of the most common Serious Incidents across Essex NHS Trusts in the last year was pressure sores – which are often avoidable when sufficient care is provided. In these instances, patients who have suffered unnecessary pain may be entitled to make a pressure sore claim.

Patients should be informed when they have been subject to a Serious Incident and at this point it may be that the impact of the Serious Incident has been so severe that they wish to pursue a hospital negligence claim.

Comment from a medical negligence solicitor

Jason Brady, Head of Blackwater Law commented:

“Whilst it is encouraging to see that the overall number of Serious Incidents has fallen marginally across Essex NHS Trusts compared to the previous year, the fact remains that incident levels are alarmingly high. Each Serious Incident has the potential to gravely impact not only the patient but their families too. Essex NHS Trusts should consider taking steps to further reduce such incidents and general mistakes and errors moving forward.”

*From the 1st April 2017, North Essex University Partnership NHS Foundation Trust merged with South Essex University Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to form Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

Upon releasing the data to us Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has stipulated: Different criteria have been applied for Serious Incidents (SI’s) over the period covered by this request.  Firstly, many things that were not classified as SIs in 2011-13, such as injurious falls, now are classed as SIs.  Secondly, the detection and reporting processes for SIs have changed in the last two years, including a thrice weekly executive review of incidents.  Either development would individually result in an increase in the reported numbers, while, in combination, the effect is proportionally greater.

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