Friday, July 12, 2013

Never events costing tax payer millions

Brought to you by our friends at JMW Solicitors

A recent investigation, into the rising number of never events in NHS has revealed the alarming cost of medical errors to tax payers.
Documents released by the NHS revealed one in ten hospital patients are affected by potentially serious medical errors, with 1,000 NHS patients needlessly dying every month due to poor hospital care.
Leading UK solicitors JMW, who analysed the existing data as part of an awareness campaign, are concerned about the increasing figures.
Eddie Jones, head of medical negligence at JMW, in an interview on the current never events system, explained:
“The very definition of a never event is a patient safety incident so serious that it should never be allowed to happen. Every single occurrence is one too many, so it is totally unacceptable that hundreds are happening, as they often have devastating consequences for the victim.
“The problem with the current system of reporting never events is that it is reliant on medical staff being honest and open about mistakes that have been made, which does not always happen.
“One way of addressing this issue would be to make it a legal requirement to report never events and for there to be significant consequences for any healthcare professionals who do not.”
The research used key findings from an NHS investigation which revealed one in ten patients are affected by potentially serious medical errors.
Last year, the government tripled the number of categories defined as a ‘never event’, from eight to twenty five, in order to increase transparency and focus on safety. However a total of 326 never events were recorded between 2011/2012, with 83 per cent of these caused by surgeons alone.
Solicitors who deal with these types of claims on a daily basis now fear the updated reporting system is no longer beneficial to the NHS and its patients.
Mr Jones said:
“The NHS may not be getting the full picture of the number of never events that are occurring and therefore cannot take the necessary action to tackle this issue head on. Patients who have been injured by a never event need assurances that every possible step has been taken to improve safety levels for them and others.
“Not all never events claims result in large compensation pay outs but the impact on the individual or family involved, particularly when a death has occurred, can be catastrophic. This is due to the system the NHS uses for valuing claims. It is often a quest for answers and for someone to admit that something went wrong that drives patients and families to take legal action in the first place rather than the prospect of financial compensation.”
The analysis by JMW also highlighted the increasing fear of the growing amount of public attention on never events, which has taken the focus away from the wider issue of budget cuts and lack of support for staff affecting the standard of care within the NHS.
The NHSLA estimates that the current claims it is handling have a potential total value of £16.8 billion, of which £16.6 billion relate to medical negligence claims.
Factsheets released by the NHSLA revealed the litigation authority received 9,143 claims under its clinical negligence scheme in 2012, which included breach of patient confidentiality and criminal proceedings against medical staff.
Mr Jones commented in the interview:
“Never Events are extremely serious but should not be tackled in isolation. The focus on the NHS should be on improving standards across the organisation in every area so that the number of avoidable patient injuries is reduced. If that is done and the right training and guidelines put in place then a reduction in the number of never events should follow.”
The key findings from the study by JMW have been summarised in an easy-to-read infographic on the company’s website: and can also be seen below.

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