A SOLICITOR who specialises in clinical negligence says claims that many hospital trusts may be covering up their mistakes are ‘unsurprising’ given the findings from many of their own investigations on behalf of clients.
A Government review has suggested a fifth of hospital trusts in England may be covering up their mistakes, as 29 out of 141 trusts nationally have not been recording and registering the expected number of safety incidents.
The review said this may be a sign of a “poor” safety culture, with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stressing the importance of hospitals being “open and honest”, adding that patients have a right to know about any problems through reporting.
Vince Shore, a senior solicitor in Neil Hudgell Solicitors’ Leeds office, says the findings are in line with numerous cases dealt with by his firm, with many of their own investigations into poor treatment often uncovering mistakes which have previously been denied.
“Many of our clients come to us for answers over their poor health care as they either do not accept what they have been told by the hospital or do not wish to engage in the complaints process because of mistrust,” said Mr Shore.
“Given the repeated calls for openness and transparency throughout the NHS, these latest claims are particularly disappointing.
“Sir David Dalton (chief executive of Salford Royal Hospital Foundation Trust, who is leading the transparency campaign) acknowledges that healthcare carries inherent risks and that whilst some of the harm that happens is unavoidable, most isn’t.
“Complete openness and transparency is always essential to enable the cause of harm to be identified and preventative measures implemented.”
The data has been released as part of the Department of Health and NHS England’s drive to improve safety in the NHS.
In March, Mr Hunt set the target of saving 6,000 lives over the next three years by reducing the number of serious mistakes.
He asked trusts to join the Sign up to Safety campaign and draw up plans to halve “avoidable harm” such as medication errors, blood clots and bedsores by 2016-17.
He said this could stop a third of preventable deaths in the coming years – equivalent to 6,000 lives saved.
It comes as the Government is launching the next stage of its campaign, a website which will allow patients to view the performance of individual hospitals on measures such as safe staffing levels and infection rates. It will also reveal which trusts have been given a poor rating for open and honest reporting.
Those with lower-than-expected incident reporting, which is widely acknowledged to be a sign of problems, will be followed up by NHS England officials.