Health Secretary: 'Path To Lower Cost Is The Same As The Path To Safer Care'

Report Reveals Mistakes In Hospitals Cost NHS Up To £2.5 Billion Each Year

16.10.2014

The Health Secretary has urged health workers to work together to make the NHS the safest healthcare organisation in the world today after it was revealed the as much as £2.5 billion is wasted on mistakes made in hospitals every year.

Jeremy Hunt said a culture change is needed to improve patient safety limiting the impact poor care has on NHS finances following the release of a report by economic consultants Frontier Economics today.

Last year the NHS spent GBP1.3billion on settling claims for patients over care errors with four areas of poor patient safety highlighted by the Department of Health. These include falls and trips, bed ulcers, urinary infections caused by poorly fitted catheters, and deep vein thrombosis, which together cost the NHS an estimated GBP200 million a year in extra care.

In a speech to staff at Birmingham Children's Hospital today, Jeremy Hunt is expected to say: "I want every director of every hospital Trust to understand the impact this harm is having not just on their patients, but also on their finances.

"And I want every nurse in the country to understand that if we work together to make the NHS the safest healthcare organisation in the world, we could potentially release resources for additional nurses, additional training, and additional time to care... nobody should be in any doubt that the path to lower cost is the same as the path to safer care."

He will add: "World class care is not just better for patients, it reduces costs for the NHS as well... more resources should be invested in improving patient care rather than wasted on picking up the pieces when things go wrong.

"It would be tempting to set up a new target or issue a new ministerial decree. But that would be a mistake. Because the culture change we need to develop has to come from inside, not because hospitals are being forced from the outside.

"If you're short of money, poor care is about the most wasteful and expensive thing you can do.

"I hope therefore that from today in hospital board meetings up and down the country, one simple change happens: patient experience and patient safety are not discussed separately to finances - but as two sides of the same coin."

Chair of patients' watchdog Healthwatch England, Anna Bradley, said: "The principle behind this initiative is absolutely right - what is good for patients is ultimately often also cheaper for the system.

"To make this work we need a compassionate and effective complaints system that addresses people's concerns when things go wrong and works with them to improve services for the future."

Expert Opinion
We see time and time again the devastating consequences medical negligence has on patients’ lives.

“We agree that if the NHS wants to save money it should focus on reducing the number of medical errors so there are fewer innocent victims needing our help.

“Many of our clients contact us not looking for money from the NHS, but because they are desperate for information from the people responsible for the poor care that they or their family have experienced.

“Often our clients just want answers and accountability and it is vital the NHS acts with compassion and candour to those whose care, for whatever reason, was not of an acceptable standard.

“Every mistake made should serve as an opportunity to learn lessons to improve patient safety for the future. This culture must become embedded for all those working in the NHS to improve standards of care and reduce costly mistakes.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner