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Over 15,000 NHS patients experience 'avoidable harm' per month, latest figures show


More than 15,000 patients suffered potentially avoidable complications in just one month while being cared for in NHS organisations and other healthcare settings, figures suggest.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that 15,003 patients suffered pressure ulcers, falls, urinary tract infections or blood clots during April.

Figures from the NHS Safety Thermometer tool showed that 92.1% of almost 190,000 patients who were being treated at 633 organisations in England received “harm-free care”.

But the other 7.9% suffered complications - many of which are avoidable with quality care - including more than 10,000 patients who suffered pressure sores and around 1,900 who fell and hurt themselves.

However, the number of “patient harm” incidents decreased in the last year - in April 2012, 10.3% of patients did not receive “harm-free care”, the HSCIC said.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “It is reassuring that these figures are now available, increasing the transparency within the NHS.

“However, to simply make the figures available is not enough. For one in 10 patients to be suffering unavoidable harm simply is not good enough.

“Our ‘Care’ campaign, which calls for an increased focus on the fundamentals of care, would lead to many of these incidents being avoided. There needs to be a review of all of this new information and action taken to ensure that next year considerably less patients suffer avoidable harm.”

Mike Durkin, director of patient safety at NHS England, said: “It is encouraging to see so many front-line teams using the tool to improve the safety of their services.

“It is also encouraging that these initial results suggest an increase in the number of patients assessed as receiving harm-free care.

“Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm is one of our priorities and is included in the 11-point scorecard we have set out in our plans for the future of the NHS.

“We believe that collecting meaningful data through comprehensive reporting will help identify areas of good practice as well as highlighting areas where more work needs to be done.”


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Readers' comments (3)

  • Indeed, when will we learn ?

    "Never Events" should never happen it is not rocket science.

    Patients should never have heir abdomen/chest/hip or any other operative site closed before ALL instruments and swabs are accounted for.

    Wrong site surgery is avoidable. If checks reveal a discrepancy then surgery should be postponed until clarification is obtained.

    I must have placed , successfully, many hundreds of NG tubes. Anyone who utilises a NG tube before its placement is confirmed is guilty of malpractice.

    As I near the end of my career I am saddened by the increasing load of evidence which points toward incompetence of supposed professionals.

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  • Anonymous | 9-May-2013 5:51 pm

    'Tis a pity you have had to work in an environment full of incompetents and fools, who should probably be taken out and shot for making mistakes.

    A huge problem is the way in which we deal with mistakes. Finger pointing, ridiculing and insulting those who make mistakes, as you have, do little to solve issues which result in mistakes being made.

    It is perhaps just as well that you are nearing the end of a career so fault free! The reality is that you are probably just as incompetent as those other "supposed professionals" who, like you, are only human.

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  • As the retirement age for NHS staff is increasing, it is highly likely that unless we sort the systems out that we treat patients within staff will simply forget things. To have people up to 68 years old responsible for life critical, care and treatment with memory problems and visual acuity, both of which deteriorate with age. This government is likely to be looked on in the same way that Beeching is for the railways, a few economists who delude themselves that they have saved the NHS. The majority of sane users of services, believing they oversaw the end of the NHS (certainly as we know it).
    It is short sighted and the scaling back of experienced staff is not the way to achieve excellence and efficiency. We are seeing that with 111 already despite call centre care being a proven model with NHS Direct. The major difference as far as I can see is the numbers and experience of staff being employed. Healthcare is too important to be just dealt with a call centre script and inadequate staff numbers for the demand. Call response time etc should be as quick as 999, as some callers need help to know who to call. 30 mins plus for an urgent care requirement is not good enough. 3 rings direct to a person who can direct you to the right place, which may be telephone advice from another person but this should not be hours later.

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