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NHS England is to publish a list of events which it deems should never happen. The data will be listed hospital by hospital so the public is able to see where these extreme mistakes occur most frequently.

The number of so called ‘never events’ nearly doubled within a year to 299 in 2012-2013 following 163 being recorded the previous 12 months according to the Department of Health’s own figures although it was unclear as to why the increase was so dramatic.

There are 25 different types of ‘never events’ including surgery on the wrong body part, patients being given lethal doses of painkillers and mothers dying during caesareans. Others include feeding tubes inserted into the lungs rather than the stomach and staff muddling up patients giving them the wrong treatment or operation. 

The figures are to be released every quarter and Dr Mike Durkin, National Director of Patient Safety at NHS England, said: “Awareness in the NHS of these issues has never been greater…By making this detailed data fully open to public scrutiny; we are making a big step towards further reducing these events.”

Head of Health Insurance at Family Insurance Services, Richard Kerton said “These figures are worrying however they provide an opportunity to identify the areas in the country where these occurrences are at a unacceptable level and help individuals in those areas make an informed decision about the benefits of private medical care provision”.

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