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More than 20% of patients 'harmed' in some hospitals

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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Official NHS data taken from the ‘NHS Safety Thermometer,’ which was launched in April this year, has shown that more than 20% of patients in some NHS Hospitals suffer harm due to avoidable accidents, complications and mistakes.

The Department of Health has set a target to deliver ‘harm-free care’ to 95% of patients ‘by 2012.’ However, fewer than 24 Trusts have met this target.

Officials have admitted that approximately 200,000 patients suffer common avoidable problems over the course of a year. In July 2012 alone, 6% of patients developed a pressure ulcer, 1% developed a new blood clot and 1.2% had a ‘fall with harm’ while receiving NHS care.

The data has also revealed that some harm is more prevalent in different care settings. For example, hospital wards were recorded to have lower rates of harm in all areas except urinary infections and blood clots. Whereas patients in Community Hospitals are much more likely to suffer general harm, including bed sores.

Ms Fletcher, fellow of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the overall figure of 91% harm-free was ‘better than expected.’

However, the Chief Executive of the Patients’ Associations said: “It’s shocking that any patient is admitted to hospital for treatment but can end up suffering from a fall or another condition that is totally avoidable given the right care from clinicians.”

A Department of Health spokesman reassured patients stating: ‘Safe care is at the heart of a modern NHS. The vast majority of patients receive safe care, but the Safety Thermometer will help to improve this still further.’

By Sarah Fairclough