NHS Never Events recently made it in to the news again due to an increasing number of Never Events being recorded from April 2021 to March 2022.

What is a Never Event?

Never Events are defined by the NHS as “serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if healthcare providers have implemented existing national guidance or safety recommendations”.

Each year a report is published by NHS Improvement detailing the type and number of incidents reported and the number of never events reported by each trust.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, 407 incidents have been reported which meet the definition of ‘Never Events’. These included 98 cases of a foreign object left inside a patient after a procedure such as surgical swabs, vaginal swabs, parts of wire cutters, part of scalpel blade and even part of a drill bit.

Never Events also include incidents such as wrong site surgery and the use of wrong implants. This occurred in 171 cases and 23 cases respectively.

It is also reported that a further 29 cases occurred that fall under the ‘Serious Incidents’ category that did not yet fit the definition of a Never Event, however are under local investigation.

Some of the NHS Trusts who reported the most never events included Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (11 cases), Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Sandwell and West Birmingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (10 cases each) followed by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (9 cases each).

What Happens When a Never Event Occurs?

When a Never Event occurs, the Trust is expected to conduct its own internal investigation, with a view to identifying the cause and to learn from the mistakes which have been made. Never Events can however have the potential to cause serious harm to a patient or cause them to undergo further procedures, which are unnecessary, to rectify the mistake.

Legal Advice on NHS Never Events

By their very definition, these are events are entirely preventable. If you have been a victim of a Never Event or any other medical error which you believe could have been avoided, then please contact our clinical negligence team on 0845 287 0939, by email, or through the online chat below.