NHS will publish avoidable deaths data

Individual NHS trusts will publish data every quarter on the number of deaths that might have been caused by care failings.

Empty bed

The NHS is set to become the first healthcare system in the world to publish data on how many deaths might have been caused by problems in care.

Last year health secretary Jeremy Hunt made the promise to share the data following the publication of a Care Quality Commission report which found that the NHS was missing opportunities to learn from patient deaths.

The data will be published each quarter by individual trusts. A total of 171 of the 223 trusts in England have already released or are releasing their first estimates by the end of December 2017.

Each trust will make its own assessment of the number of deaths due to problems in care. The data will not be comparable and will not be collated centrally.

Learning from mistakes

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Every death resulting from a failing in care is an absolute tragedy, and… we still have a long way to go.

“It marks a significant milestone in ensuring the NHS learns from every tragic case, sharing lessons across the whole system to prevent mistakes recurring and ultimately delivering safer care for all patients in the future.”

The Department of Health (DH) estimates the programme is likely to cover between 1,250 and 9,000 deaths, which research suggests is the number of deaths each year that may be down to problems in care.

According to a spokesperson for the DH the deaths are expected to range from rare but high-profile failings in care, to those which involve terminally ill patients who die earlier than expected.

Figures published by the National Patient Safety Agency show that the number of reported medication safety incidents in both acute and mental health trusts has been increasing over time.

In acute trusts, there was an average of 40.6 incidents reported per 10,000 bed days from April 2014 to September 2015. In mental health trusts it was 31.6 per 10,000 bed days.

However, there has been a decline in the rate of incidents that cause severe harm or death.

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, December 2017;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20204139