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‘Serious incidents’ and ‘never events’ are becoming alarmingly frequent at North Middlesex University Hospital, where a Care Quality Commission review carried out in September 2016 found that the hospital ‘requires improvement’ in all areas other than surgery. Worryingly, it seems that conditions at the hospital have failed to improve since then, with a recent article revealing that the number of ‘serious incidents’ and ‘never events’ has been steadily on the increase since 2015.
According to NHS England’s Serious Incident Framework, ‘serious incidents’ are defined as “events in healthcare where the potential for learning is so great, or the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisations are so significant, that they warrant using additional resources to mount a comprehensive response’".
‘Never events’ will always be classified as serious incidents, but are more specifically defined as events which are so serious that they should never happen. These include, amongst others, events such as operating on the wrong body part, leaving objects (such as swabs or instruments) inside patients during surgery, and transfusing or transplanting incompatible blood components or organs.
Statistics show that the number of ‘serious incidents’ at the hospital rose from 81 between 2016 and 2017, to 88 between 2017 and April 2018. Six ‘never events’ are reported to have occurred at the hospital in the 12-month period to April 2018. Prior to this, between July 2015 and June 2016, 61 serious incidents were reported, including one ‘never event’.
Serious incidents revealed to have taken place at the hospital include a patient bleeding to death in a corridor, a cancer patient being starved of oxygen, and a patient being found dead while ward staff were unable to say when he was last seen alive. The situation at the hospital has become so concerning that the shadow health secretary has now called on the Government to carry out an urgent investigation in to patient safety.
Increasingly, the stresses and strains burdening the NHS are compromising the care of patients, putting them at risk not only of death, but also of extreme and avoidable pain and suffering. Having recently read Adam Kay’s diary entries describing his time as a junior doctor in his book ‘This is Going to Hurt’, I am under no illusion as to the extreme pressures faced by medical professionals on a daily basis, and to the distress they experience when incidents occur on their watch. However, in the clinical negligence department, we often see the pain and suffering experienced by patients and their families when things do go wrong. Medical professionals strive to do their best, but the problems within the NHS are perhaps one of the issues that prevent them from doing so. Families deserve to be compensated for the damage caused by a system in which they entrust their lives – especially in circumstances such as those described above, which would no doubt be avoidable were it not for the problems that plague the NHS.
If you or a member of your family has experienced a similar situation and would like legal advice, please visit our Medical Negligence and Personal Injury page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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