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NHS England has released its latest figures revealing the amount, and the types of Never Events that occurred across NHS trusts in England. Blackwater Law analysed the findings and look at what this means for patient care.
The NHS defines Never Events as “serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if healthcare providers have implemented existing national guidance or safety recommendations.”
The NHS suggests that if a trust is experiencing a higher number of these, or is seeing certain incidents being repeated, then it could be a sign of an area of weakness within that specific trust.
The NHS themselves say that even a single Never Event within an organisation could be an indicator of poor practice.
Never Events will be of grave concern to patients, as they can lead to severe injury, or in some cases even death.
NHS England records the Never Events under a number of categories. For 2022/23, the Never Events recorded fell into the following categories.
As mentioned above, Never Events are an indication that there is a serious problem at a hospital with healthcare practice.
All trusts are encouraged to report any Never Event that occurs and are expected to conduct a local investigation into the incident. This is so that any mistakes can be learned from, and any underlying issues with patient care at the trust can be identified.
The latest provisional data released earlier his month shows a total of 384 Never Events, shared across 206 NHS hospitals and other healthcare providers.
The initial results show that there has been a slight decrease in the number of Never events since last year. In 2021/22, there were 407 recorded Never Events.
As part of the provisional data release, NHS England detailed specific Never Events that occurred across England.
Blackwater Law have looked through the data to find some of the most concerning.
There were two recorded incidents of patients having ovaries removed when the plan was for them to be conserved. In one case, both ovaries were removed when the surgical plan was to remove just one.
In one incident, a patient received a skin biopsy intended for another patient. On three occasions patients fell from windows, due to a window restrictor failing.
On five occasions, patients received the wrong blood during a blood transfusion. This is particularly concerning as if you receive the blood of the wrong type, your immune system could attack the red blood cells. This can be life-threatening.
Across all trusts, there were 96 occasions of a foreign object being left after a procedure. This included guide wires, part of a drill bit, surgical forceps and 16 incidents of surgical swabs being left in a patient after an operation
The most common Never Event that was recorded in 2022/23 is what is known as a ‘wrong site block.’ This is where the wrong site is blocked from pain relief using local anaesthetic.
As part of the provisional data release, NHS England provides the number of Never Events that occurred at named trusts.
The trusts that recorded the most Never Events between March 2022 and April 2023 were University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust both with ten recorded Never events.
Behind those Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust each reported eight Never events.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust followed each with seven Never Events.
The Ten NHS Trusts with the most recorded Never Events are as follows:
Associate Zoe Diss successfully secured a £40,000 settlement on behalf of her client, Mrs M who was led to believe she had terminal cancer for four years before her diagnosis was discovered to be incorrect.
As discussed, Never Events can have devastating impacts when it comes to patient safety. Never Events can lead to serious, permanent injury as well as death.
Commenting on the latest figures, Jason Brady, Partner & Head of Blackwater Law said: “It is concerning to see the details of these ‘Never Events.’ At Blackwater Law we see the impact that these incidents have, not just on the person affected, but also on their families.
These incidents are especially concerning for patients and their families as they are avoidable incidents”
If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered because of a Never Event, you could be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries.
For free initial advice on your claim, contact one of our expert team today, who can help you start your claim.