Figures show private acute care caused 21 Never Events last year

There were 21 “wholly preventable” inpatient safety incidents of the most serious category at private hospitals last year, new data has shown.
This is the first time that a comprehensive dataset of Never Events – serious inpatient safety incidents, involving privately funded people has been published in the UK.
The audit, carried out by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), showed 287 out of 595 private hospitals and NHS private patient units (PPUs) provided information on Never Events between 1 January and 31 December 2019.
Type of incident Number of events
Wrong site surgery
Wrong implant/prosthesis
Retained foreign object post procedure
Mis-selection of a strong potassium solution
Administration of medication by the wrong route
PHIN said the figures adds to the “wealth of information already published about serious incidents involving NHS patients, which is routinely collected and published when they receive NHS funded care in a NHS or independent hospital”.

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, Chair of PHIN, said: “The publication of these Never Events is an important step-change in transparency. This will be helpful for patients when deciding the right provider for their care, but it is also important that the information is available to hospitals, consultants and others within the sector.

“Never Events have to be reported so that lessons are learnt and actions taken to ensure they cannot happen again. This means that the reporting, investigation and learning is a powerful safety ‘call to action’ in itself and should always lead to an improvement in processes and quality of care as a result.”We hope publication of this information will stimulate that process of continuous improvement.”

The NHS Improvement definition of a Never Event says that such incidents “are wholly preventable where guidance or safety recommendations that provide strong systemic protective barriers are available at a national level and have been implemented by healthcare providers”.

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