'Never Event' Figures Released For NHS Wales

Legal Experts Say More Must Be Done To Increase Patient Safety


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Medical negligence experts from national law firm Irwin Mitchell say more must be done to protect patient safety, after figures revealed there have been 60 ‘never events’ in Welsh hospitals since 2012.


A ‘never event’ is a "largely preventable patient safety incident" that should not occur if proper measures are in place.


Across Wales’ seven health boards, since 2012 till present, incidents have included a silicone object being left inside someone, a patient falling from a window and the wrong person undergoing an exploratory procedure.


Items wrongly left inside patients after a procedure or surgery have included vaginal swabs, a surgical blade and a silicone object.


The 60 ‘never events’ also included wrong site surgeries, the wrong joint being injected, a  wrong side pleural biopsy, operating on the wrong spinal disc and the incorrect tooth being removed.


Incorrect prosthesis or implants included a pacemaker, lens and hip replacement.


One person also fell from a window which was within reach of patients at floor level and could be opened without the aid of a tool.


A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: "Every year, hundreds of thousands of people receive high-quality, safe care in the Welsh NHS.


"However, in an increasingly complicated and modern healthcare system, problems can unfortunately happen.


"When problems do occur, NHS staff are encouraged to report all incidents so they can be investigated openly to promote learning and provide open feedback to patients and their families as part of our commitment to an open safety culture."


Lisa Jordan, head of medical negligence at specialist law firm Irwin Mitchell, said the whole idea of calling these ‘never events’ is just that, they should never happen and it is very worrying that this number of incidents are occurring across Wales.



Expert Opinion
It is absolutely crucial that NHS Wales urgently invest in training to ensure they are doing everything they can to protect the safety of patients and avoid unnecessary injury.

The work we do means that we witness first-hand the trauma and devastating effects these never events can have on patients and their families. The fact that they are still happening shows that not enough is being done to prevent them and secure a patient’s safety.

We’ve seen a number of repeat incidents of retained instruments, surgery on the wrong body part and cases of wrong implants or prosthesis being fitted. Staff must be better trained to use the correct equipment and follow strict guidelines to ensure these mistakes can never be made.
Lisa Jordan, Partner