NHS Trust puts up posters reminding surgeons to check identity of patients before operating

The number of ‘never events’ in England failed to decline from 2016 to 2017, with 466 and 467 recorded in both years respectively.

Situations where patients are left with medical equipment in their body after an operation or overdosed on the wrong drugs also fall within the category.

Kate Andrews, news editor at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “It’s welcoming to see Oxfordshire hospitals taking steps to deliver more specialist staff training, to ensure that these kinds of ‘never events’ are better avoided.

“But the fact that such clinical mistakes are considered ‘largely preventable’ should be cause for alarm for the system as a whole. The NHS has been underperforming for years for its patients, ranking in the bottom third of comparisons for international health system performance.

“Substantial reform of the system, so it better focused on patient care, would likely reduce the number of ‘never events’ that occur each year. Sadly, with no meaningful plans for reform on the agenda, completely unnecessary – and largely frightening – errors like this continue to occur and are failing to decline.”

NHS Improvement’s Executive Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer, Dr Kathy McLean said: “It is important that staff continue to be open and honest when things go wrong.

“It is not possible to compare the number of ‘never events’ on an annual basis because the Never Events Policy and Framework and the never events list are regularly revised as clinical practice changes.

“When reporting incidents, we expect hospitals to investigate and take action to improve safety and reduce the risks of them being repeated.”

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