NHS England says more frequent 'never events' data will help NHS care become even safer


For the first time quarterly data on the number of ‘never events’ taking place at each NHS trust in England will be published for patients, healthcare professionals, managers, stakeholders and the public to see.

Never events constitute serious errors in care that put patients at risk of harm and that should not happen if preventative procedures are in place. Until now, data has been published annually. The data is available on the NHS England website, and will be updated in three months’ time — from April 2014, the data will be updated every month.

Never events include such incidents as wrong-site surgery, items like swabs and other medical equipment being accidentally left inside a patient, or strong drugs like chemotherapy being administered in the wrong way.

The data shows that the number of never events recorded is broadly similar to last year. NHS England expects that reporting of these incidents will continue to increase as the NHS becomes a more transparent system and as the types of incidents that are classed as never events increase in line with developments in patient safety practices.

Dr Mike Durkin, National Director of Patient Safety at NHS England, said: ‘Every single never event puts patients at risk of avoidable harm. People who suffer severe harm because of mistakes can suffer serious physical and psychological effects for the rest of their lives, and that should never happen to anyone who seeks treatment from the NHS.

‘But is time for some real openness and honesty. There are risks involved with all types of healthcare. And one of those risks — with the best will in the world and the best doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in the world — is that things can go wrong and mistakes can be made. This has always been the case, and it is true everywhere in the world.’

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