The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released data on 2014 NHS patients which indicates that almost 1 in 4 deaths in England and Wales are potentially avoidable.
These figures were worse in the North East of England, and even more pronounced in Wales than in England as a whole. Overall 2014 saw 108,491 potentially avoidable deaths, accounting for 23% of all patient deaths.
Tumours Account for a Third of Avoidable Deaths
The report indicates that the biggest killer – tumours – accounted for around a third of all avoidable deaths, prompting renewed concerns relating to late cancer diagnosis, and its impact on patient mortality. Heart disease and strokes were also prominent killers amongst the demographic, with men incurring an avoidable death rate of 29% vs women at just 18%, with it being suggested that lifestyle plays a significant part in the findings.
Late or misdiagnosis of cancer remains a serious concern in light of the new data however, with the ONS’s Dr Anne Campbell commenting to the BBC that:
“We’re investing up to £300m a year by 2020 to improve earlier cancer diagnosis, and an additional £150m for a dementia research institute to help fulfil our goal to find a cure…”
Mistakes Cut Short Lives by 23-72 Years
Campbell’s figures indicate that those whose lives are cut short unnecessarily through the likes of delayed cancer diagnosis lose an average of 23 potential years. This figure rises to an astonishing 72 years when children and young people are considered separately.
A spokesperson for the Welsh government also issued a statement in relation to the figures:
“Every avoidable death is a tragedy, and we are working hard with NHS Wales to reduce avoidable mortality rates…”
Wales the Only Country to Investigate All Hospital Deaths
Wales is currently the only country in the UK to investigate each and every hospital death, and the knowledge acquired from such cases has helped health professionals achieve some success in tackling avoidable deaths relating to sepsis, C- diff and MRSA. Such practices assist greatly in the identification of medical negligence where this has occurred and the improvement of services to prevent mistakes being repeated.
Yet more analysis and improvement is clearly still needed however in both England and Wales, where misdiagnosis or delayed diagnoses still have the potential to bring about unavoidable deaths.
If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer a death in the family which you believe to have been avoidable, or if delayed diagnosis of cancer or any condition has inflicted unnecessary suffering on those you love, you could be entitled to claim medical negligence compensation. Simply contact Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 083 5500. You will get free initial legal advice from a specialist solicitor. All accepted claims for clinical negligence compensation are operated by Blackwater Law no a “no win, no fee” basis.