Record number of health ‘incidents’ recorded in North Essex last year

Health incidents in north Essex rise.

Health incidents in north Essex rise. - Credit: PA

The highest-ever number of serious incidents was reported by health bodies in north Essex last year.

A total of 773 serious incidents (SIs) were recorded by the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEE CCG) from services it funds between April 2014 and March this year.

The figure is a 113% rise on the same period the previous year, when 680 incidents were recorded.

Major pressure ulcers formed the largest single cause of SIs with 244 reports, the majority of which were recorded by Anglian Community Enterprise. The second highest category was unexpected deaths with 55 incidents, the majority reported by the North Essex Partnership which runs mental health services.

The CCG has also recorded six “never events”, the most severe classification of SI, with four still to be confirmed, all from the Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust (CHUFT).

Among these were four incidents where swabs or medical instruments were left in patients’ bodies after treatment, and one where the wrong strength lens was put into someone’s eye.

CHUFT also reported almost half (368) of the Sis in the last year.

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Lisa Llewelyn, NEE CCG’s director of nursing and clinical quality, said: “Serious incidents in healthcare are rare, but it is acknowledged systems and processes have weaknesses and that errors will inevitably happen.

“We encourage all our provider organisations to submit reports for anything that could be a serious incident so we can review these together.

“Organisations that report more incidents usually have a better and more effective safety culture.

“The important thing is to learn from serious incidents and to improve how we care for patients to prevent similar incidents happening in future. But we can’t learn and improve if we don’t know what the problems are.”

The NEE CCG also reported the highest-ever number of SIs still open at the end of the year with 289, compared to 283 the year before.

A CHUFT spokesman said: “We are not ashamed of that number as we are pleased there is a culture where our staff feel comfortable to report incidents. We would rather people were up front and reported things than not reporting them because they fear repercussions.

“We are aspiring to be a learning organisation, and what is important is that these are investigated and where we could have performed better to did not perform as well as we should we learn from this.

“These lessons can then be cascaded through the organisation. All serious incidents are shared with NEE CCG and sometimes result in action plans to bring about improvements and to minimise the risk of recurrence.

“Just because something is reported as a serious incident does not mean something went wrong, but that it is investigated.

“No-one comes to work to make mistakes or harm patients. The safety of patients is of paramount importance to this trust which is why ‘acting in the best interests of our patients’ is one of our three strategic objectives.”

The figures are included in a report to the NEE CCG’s board which meets at the Long Meadows Community Centre, Dovercourt, from 2.30pm on July 28.