Action on Health: Ruffley asks questions about national watchdog's figures for 'unnecessary deaths'

Thursday, 3 November, 2005

David Ruffley MP has today written to Chris Bown, Chief Executive of West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust, asking that the Trust provide data on the number of deaths that have occurred as a result of patient safety incidents and details of how they plan to reduce the rate of patient safety incidents in the future.

A report from the National Audit Office, A Safer Place for Patients: Learning to improve patient safety, published today reveals that in an analysis of 256 NHS acute, ambulance and mental health trusts there were 885,832 incidents and near misses in 2003-04 and 974,000 in 2004-05.

Patient safety incidents cost the NHS an estimated £2 billion a year in extra bed delays, in addition hospital acquired infections add a further £1 billion to these costs.

169 Trusts were able to provide data on the number of deaths as a result of patient safety incidents. This showed that in 2004-05 there were 2,181 deaths recorded but it is acknowledged there is significant under reporting of deaths and serious incidents.

This national watchdog report does not break the figures down by Trust and, therefore, David Ruffley has written to West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust to establish the situation locally.

David said:

'This report from the National Audit Office highlights the very real threat of patient safety incidents and the £2 billion they cost the NHS each year is astonishing.

'Following the NAO's report I have today written to Chris Bown asking that he provide details of the number of patient safety incidents and resulting deaths within West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust. Further to this I have asked that he provide information on how the Trust intends to deal with this problem.

'Nationally the NAO say that 50 percent of patient safety incidents could have been avoided. There were 2,181 deaths nationally in 2004-05 as a result of patient safety incidents, however, the NAO's figures do not give a local picture and this is why I have written to Chris Bown.

'It is of paramount importance that at a time when the NHS in Suffolk is in crisis everything is done to ensure patient safety and avoid unnecessary cost.

'I look forward to Mr Bown's response so that I can assure my constituents that West Suffolk Hospital is doing everything in their power to address this threat.'