NHS Report Discovers Catalogue Of 'Devastating And Shocking' Errors

Health Service Ombudsman Believes NHS Has Failed Every Generation

29.10.2014

A report published by the Health Service Ombudsman has revealed serious concerns about the standard of care offered to patients and highlighted a number of “devastating and shocking” mistakes that have placed patients in danger.

The investigation into 126 NHS complaints, which was headed by Dame Julie Mellor, involved members of every generation and found that basic errors by NHS staff had led to catastrophic harm for patients.

The dossier revealed a lack of “care and compassion” for patients is prominent within the NHS and detailed a number of specific incidents where patients were discharged early and, as a result, suffered harm, with many of these incidents involving elderly patients.

Some of the cases highlighted in the report include a one-day-old baby who suffered permanent brain damage after "serious mistakes" during a blood transfusion and a man who died after a liver biopsy that was performed without his consent. It was later discovered he was on the incorrect medication and that his clinical records had been lost.

Dame Julie said: "We are increasingly concerned about patients being discharged unsafely from hospital. Unplanned admissions and readmissions are a massive cost to the NHS. We are publishing these summaries so public services, MPs and members of the public can see the different types of complaints we look into, our findings and recommendations.

"I hope this will give people with concerns about the service they have received the confidence to come to us to complain. We also want to provide valuable lessons for public services, and show how complaining makes a positive difference to them."

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: “The NHS is the most transparent it has ever been, and we're focusing on confronting poor care like never before."

Expert Opinion
This report into the standard of care provided to patients and the mistakes that occur within the NHS is alarming. In our work we see first-hand the impact that medical negligence and sub-standard care can have on patients, with errors often leading to major injuries that require a lifetime of care, support and rehabilitation to allow patients to regain a quality of life.

“It is crucial that the NHS learns from each and every incident and complaint about care standards to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated in the future.

“While the NHS says it is becoming more transparent and working hard to confront poor care, we see time and time again patients instructing us for our help as they are frustrated by the lack of information and accountability provided to them by the NHS when they or a family member has fallen victim to substandard care. As well as this, we continue to work on cases where the NHS fails to admit liability in clear cut cases of negligence, forcing our clients to prepare for trial, before it then agrees to settle the case as the hearing approaches.

“This process costs both time and money, as well as causing further distress for patients, and could easily be avoided if the NHS admitted responsibility for its failings earlier in such cases and provided reassurance that improvements have been made to protect future patient safety.”
Julianne Moore, Partner