The Alarming Surge of Never Events in the UK 

Published 3:57 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

Branded content

In recent years, the UK has witnessed a worrying escalation in the occurrence of ‘Never Events’ within the healthcare sector. Never Events are characterised as serious patient safety incidents that are entirely preventable if healthcare professionals have followed national guidance and safety recommendations. 

According to NHS data, there were 384 Never Events reported between April 2022 and March 2023, raising grave concerns about patient safety and the effectiveness of healthcare protocols. This article explores the disconcerting rise in these events and the implications they have on patient well-being, healthcare providers, and the overall trust in the system. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Escalation of Never Events 

Never Events are set into different categories and include anything from an operation carried out on the wrong area of a patient’s body to administrating the wrong medication. Figures confirm that Never Events were at the highest between April 2021 and March 2022 with a shocking 407 cases reported. 

Though the number has reduced this year, the very nature of these events means that they should not be happening at all. Let’s be clear – there is no excuse for a Never Event and more care needs to be taken to ensure that they are avoided. 

Impact on Patient Safety 

Never Events are key indicators that there have been significant failures in patient safety procedures, and they can have life-changing consequences. Patients can go on to develop severe aftereffects that can even result in death in the most serious cases. 

The most common Never Events include the wrong-site surgery, retained foreign bodies post-procedures and the wrong implant or prosthesis being installed. 

Healthcare Provider Accountability 

When you go into hospital, you put your trust in the healthcare professionals who are responsible for your treatment and recovery. Healthcare providers have a legal duty of care towards every patient, and they are bound by law to do everything in their power to prevent Never Events from occurring. 

If you or a loved one has suffered a Never Event, you could move forward in claiming the compensation you’re entitled to by contacting specialist personal injury solicitors. Not only can this relieve any resulting financial burdens, but it goes a long way to holding healthcare providers accountable and ensuring the same incident never happens again. 

Addressing the Issue & Restoring Trust 

The NHS has revised its Never Events policy and framework to provide new strategies on how you should identify, investigate and manage Never Events. Emphasis has been placed on improving the channels of communication between healthcare workers, departments and patients. 

Other plans have been put in place to restore faith and trust in health institutions such as infection control plans, having more standardised documentation and incident reporting, and frequent revaluation of policies and procedures.