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Nearly 3,000 deaths due to substandard care

Nearly 3,000 patients died last year as a direct result of substandard hospital care, an investigation has claimed.

The BBC’s Panorama found that in 2011, 2,875 patients died and 7,585 suffered serious harm because of unsafe care in NHS hospitals.

The revelations come five years after the Mid Staffordshire Trust scandal, when hundreds of people died unnecessarily.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that despite the Mid Staffordshire failings, there may still be pockets of appalling standards care within the health and social care system.

He told Panorama: “Whilst failings in care at Mid Staffordshire Trust have shocked many, we cannot say with confidence that some of those failings do not exist in pockets elsewhere in the NHS and social care system.

“Whilst the majority of patients receive excellent care from the NHS, we still have much to do to ensure quality of care is considered as important as quality of treatment throughout the system”.

He said that a “major priority” of the government was to put in place proper structures and safeguards to ensure all patients receive acceptable care.

Dr Mike Williams, a former trust chief executive and patient safety expert, said: “Most hospitals are now having more and more patients coming through the front door.

“The money is at a standstill if not reducing. The number of staff are therefore at the same level. They’re having to do more work and work harder and faster.”

He added: “The research is very clear that where staff have to work extremely hard and overwork, they are much more likely to make mistakes.”

The public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal is due out early next year and, following its publication, the health secretary will finalise his proposed health reforms.

Peter Walsh, of Action Against Medical Accidents, a specialist charity for patient safety, said: “One of my biggest fears for the outcome of the Staffordshire public inquiry is that the government will try and convince us all that changes have already taken place, that this is an historical issue and that the new system will somehow deal with the problems that led to Mid Staffordshire.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

  • Panorama - How Safe is Your Hospital? will be shown at 8.30pm on BBC One

Readers' comments (3)

  • Another commendable commitment - this time from Jeremy Hunt - in a long list of such promises.

    The trouble is that, in most cases, nothing actually happens. If this Coalition is - as appears to be the case - tunnel-visioned about saving money, why can't it see that robust and unannounced inspection and follow-up is going to be cost effective in precluding most instances of unsafe care?

    Quite apart from this, what thought is given to those at the receiving end of dangerous care-giving sc. the patients? As said above, staff shortages inexorably lead to injury/tragedy followed by the standard response from a Trust ie. "(O)ur thoughts go out to the patient's family/ we take these matters very seriously/ lessons have been learned" and so on.

    Actions speak louder than words and confidence can only be restored in Trusts where dangerous practice has occurred as and when we are told what remedial action and safeguards have been put in place. Even then, ongoing inspection will be needed to set minds at rest.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • tinkerbell

    The trouble is that, in most cases, nothing actually happens'
    David Francis Seelig | 3-Dec-2012 6:25 pm

    and therein lies the biggest problem.

    Whilst no one should argue with the facts and everyone would want to see improved care demonising nursing is not the way to go about it. There are probably countless nurses who raise concerns, a few good whistleblowers who have spoken out and what actually happens. Nothing mostly.

    These nurses have raised concerns about facts and the facts have been ignored swept under a very lumpy carpet in room 101.

    It is a culture change that is required amongst management where concerns are taken seriously and changes made and whistleblowers (let's find another name for them with more positive connotations) are taken seriously rather than hounded out of the profession.

    If there are less nurses, who have to work harder and faster then even more serious mistakes are going to happen.

    Unless serious, dedicated action is taken when things go wrong, there is an even bigger list of catastrophe waiting further down the road.

    Meanwhile the problem will remain and get even worse.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Surely the whole "Team" must be indicated becasue if it was just one aspect, ie poor nursing care, or poor surgical techniques, surely some one would have held the same to acccount? Constultans, Matrons, Managers, Executives! Why this wall of silence until relatives complain?

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