Leaked figures reveal more patients coming to harm as NHS standards fall

The number of “serious incidents” involving what the NHS calls “sub-optimal care of deteriorating patients” is going up in hospitals, ambulance services and mental health settings.

The trend has emerged in previously unpublished NHS England figures provided to former Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb, who has branded them “deeply disturbing”.

They also show that the number of patients in hospital in England who are suffering harm in serious incidents because of delays in their treatment has risen significantly over the last two years from 700 for some of 2015-16 (only part-year figures were available) to 1,027 in 2016-17, and then again to 1,515 last year.

The number of serious incidents of all kinds that occurred in acute hospitals fell slightly between 2015-16 and 2017-18, from 12,303 to 11,637 – a 5% fall. However, rises in several types of incidents needed to be investigated by NHS England because they involve potentially serious damage to someone’s health, said Lamb.

NHS Improvement, the health service regulator, said the NHS was short of 93,000 staff during 2017-18, including 37,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors.

The number of recorded serious incidents involving sub-optimal care of deteriorating patients in hospital rose 10% from 580 in 2015-16 to 636 in 2017-18, NHS England’s data showed. More


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