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Deaths of 4,600 NHS patients linked to safety incidents

Safety incidents at hospital, mental health and ambulance trusts were linked to more than 4,600 patient deaths in the last year, data shows.

The types of patient safety issues recorded by the National Reporting & Learning System (NRLS), which compiles NHS data, include problems with medication, the type of care given, staffing and infection control.

In total 4,668 deaths were linked to patient safety incidents, of which 530 deaths specifically linked to mental health trusts and 73 to ambulance trusts.

Guidance accompanying the data from the NRLS, which was set up in 2003, states deaths are not always “clear-cut” and cannot always be attributed to patient safety incidents. However, under the “degree of harm” section recorded on the system, there were 4,688 cases listed as death. In total, 4,356,277 reports of patient safety incidents were reported between November 2018 and October 2019. They are described as issues where unintended or unexpected incidents which could have – or did – lead to harm of a patient under the care of the NHS.

Other safety incidents had links to consent, paperwork, facilities, and in some cases patient abuse by staff or a third party.

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Source: The Guardian, 9 December 2019


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