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Preventable patient deaths within the NHS to be reported on from April 2017

In 2015, 495,309 deaths were registered in England alone. Nearly half of those (47%) involved patient deaths in hospital with reports that 200 preventable patient deaths take place across the NHS every week.

A review was set up by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to investigate a number of NHS Trusts and probe how avoidable deaths were looked into and how many Trusts were showing evidence of learning from any mistakes made.

Carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the results were unfavourable concluding that none of the 27 NHS Trusts investigated were ‘properly probing’ preventable patient deaths.

Following the review, Jeremy Hunt has said that improvements are needed and that from next year, NHS Trusts must start publishing information relating to preventable patient deaths in their hospitals.

The CQC review found that families in these circumstances were not dealt with sympathetically nor properly involved in any investigations carried out following a preventable patient death.

Hunt will be devising new guidelines, also to be published in 2017, setting out the criteria of circumstances where a patient death would need to be looked into. The objective of the changes is to provide greater support for families in these circumstances and to ensure greater candour, learning and accountability within the NHS.

Deaths involving mental health patients and those with learning disabilities were found to be the deaths that were least likely to be investigated.

We recently represented a family at the inquest of a grandmother whose death as a result of a pulmonary embolism was entirely preventable and was caused due to significant delays in diagnosis and treatment at the hospital concerned.

In this case, medical staff were made aware by her family on the first day of her hospital admission that she was at risk of the condition due to a significant family history. We went on to make a claim of medical negligence against the NHS Trust involved securing a six figure compensation sum for the family. Read their story here.

If you have suffered a significant injury or you believe that someone you know has suffered a preventable death while in hospital, Call Us on 0800 042 0700.

Alternatively, contact us with details of your potential medical negligence claim by email at

Find out more about our Medical Negligence department
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