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Medical Negligence

“Never Events” and the NHS

A number of 'Never Events' have been reported in NHS England.


The rising number of ‘never events’

The past few years have proven tough for the NHS, but the health service has remained in place, doing the best it can to care for and support the country. Yet with hundreds of ‘never events’ being reported between April 2021 and March 2022 more needs to be done to prevent them.

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Between April 2021 and March 2022, 407 of these reported events occurred across England, meeting the definition of a ‘Never Event’. Over this time period, this figure means that there was an average of more than one of these events each day.

The annual rate of ‘never events’ had been gradually decreasing in recent years, rising again in 2018-19 to 496 before dropping to 364 in 2020-21. Unfortunately, the past year has seen figures rise once more.

What is a ‘never event’?

A ‘never event’ is a serious but largely preventable incident that affects the health and wellbeing of the patient. The ‘never event’ could have been avoided had the proper procedures and guidelines been followed and the task carried out in accordance with health and safety guidelines.

According to the NHS England, guidelines there are 25 categories that constitute a ‘never event’. These include the retention of foreign objects post procedure, or wrongly prepared high-risk injectable medication. The most common of these ‘never events’ is wrong site surgery, where surgery was carried out on the wrong limb, wrong organ or even the wrong patient. This grossly negligent practice occurred a staggering 126 times between April of 2014 year and March of 2015, although this number has since escalated to 171 wrong site surgeries between April 2021 and March 2022.

How common are ‘never events’?

A closer look at the figures:

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust tops the most recent table with a staggering 11 ‘never event’ occurrences at the site. This included four wrong site surgeries and three patients retaining foreign objects after their procedure. In addition to this, there was also cases of misplaced “naso or oro” gastric tubes and feeds administered.

In previous years, other top scorers for ‘never events’ include Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.

Rachel Power, Chief of Patients Association told Sky News: “Wrong site surgery incidents are preventable safety instances that can have devastating consequences for the patient and their family.”

Adding that “People who suffer 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.”

What needs to happen next to prevent a ‘never event’ from occurring?

The NHS has been under massive pressure in recent years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside an ageing population and funding cuts.

Rachel Power further commented: “Although the NHS is under significant pressure, these incidents should not occur if the available preventative measures are implemented.” She also shared that “Each incident of this nature puts patients at avoidable risk of harm.”

How difficult is it for the NHS to defend a ‘never event’?

If a ‘never event’ occurs, the hospital and/or NHS trust will find it very difficult to defend any claim submitted. It is highly likely that the NHS trust will admit liability/beach of duty in the claim. However, it’s important to note that even if breach of duty is conceded, you as a Claimant must still prove causation i.e. injury as a result of the breach of duty – this is where our specialist knowledge and guidance can assist.

Have you or someone you know been affected by a ‘never event’?

With Been Let Down as your solicitor, it’s easy to find out if you may be entitled to compensation. To arrange a free initial consultation simply contact us by the freephone telephone or via the contact claim form on our website. You will be called back promptly by a member of our highly experienced medical negligence team to discuss your situation further.

All initial consultations are free and at no obligation to yourself. We will listen sensitively to the details of your claim, and if we decide that you have a good case in negligence with a reasonable chance of success, then we most likely offer to pursue your claim for you on a ‘No Win  No Fee’ basis.

It is best not to hold back in getting the advice you need as all medical negligence claims have time limits in which proceedings must be commenced. So, you have nothing to lose in contacting us, and you have no obligation to proceed.

Contact us today

Get in contact today and find out if you can claim for compensation.

You can make an online enquiryrequest a callback at a time that suits you, or call us on 0800 234 3234


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