Cumbria hospitals record seven 'never events' in 18 months

Hospital ward general Image copyright PA
Image caption North Cumbria NHS Trust said patient safety is a "priority"

Seven medical mistakes known as "never events" have been recorded at hospitals in Cumbria over the last 18 months.

The incidents, categorised by the Department of Health as so serious they should never happen, have been revealed following a Freedom of Information request by BBC Cumbria.

The North Cumbria trust said its incidents involved medication, but Morecambe Bay declined to give details.

Never events can include operating on the wrong body part or organ.

Five incidents were recorded by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for hospitals including Furness General in Barrow and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

That compares to seven between November 2012 and March 2016, which included foreign objects left inside patients, operations carried out on the wrong person and wrong site surgery.

'Medication safety'

The trust's medical director David Walker said: "We take the detection, identification and acting upon never events very seriously and we are rigorous in our attempts to ensure once we have had a never event they don't happen again.

"If you look at the wider picture of patient safety we have an outstanding record. The mortality rate is at least 10% below the national average."

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital, said it had recorded two never events over the last 18 months.

Medical director Rod Harpin said patient safety is "a priority".

"Clearly the ideal situation is to have no never events. It is our job to provide a safe and effective service for patients.

"Medication safety remains a key focus for the health service."

Between November 2012 to March 2016 it had recorded 15 never events including nine retained foreign object post-procedures and five wrong site surgeries - where operations or procedures were carried out on the wrong organ or body part.

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