Never events: The events that drain the NHS budgets



It’s been well-publicized just how much pressure the NHS is currently being subjected to; with the organization poised for budget cuts over the next few years which are going to throw it into chaos.

Bearing this in mind, the costs of medical negligence are quite frankly scary. It’s understood that the NHS will soon be safeguarding a third of their budget (which is a twelve-figure sum) to cope with these cases – money which may have otherwise been used to much more beneficial causes.

Unfortunately, the problem only seems to be escalating. According to The Medical Negligence Experts, the number of claims are on the rise and medical negligence is becoming a more common route than ever before.

The most frustrating part for all concerned is that many claims come as a result of “never events”. While this is a term which might not be recognized by a lot of readers, the financial implications are significant and in simple terms, they shouldn’t happen.

Let’s now take a look how these never events not only hinder the business of the NHS, but also put patients under needless harm.

What are never events?

The reason we labelled never events as frustrating is simple; they are incidents which are completely preventable.

Common examples of these events include providing the wrong implants to patients, failing to remove foreign objects in an operation or even wrong site surgery. As such, there is just no basis for their occurrence.

Sure, one could argue that this should be the case of all negligence claims – but considering the fact that all procedures are undertaken by humans this is never going to happen. In the case of never events, these are on a different scale – yet one which still costs the NHS significant amounts of money every year.

How many never events are reported?

Statistics have shown that the NHS has been subjected to over 1,000 never events over the last four years. Out of these, an incredible 400 were due to wrong site surgery – arguably one of the most basic errors.

Unfortunately, it’s not been possible to find out how much these errors have cost the organization in relation to claims. However, with many claims surpassing six figure sums, it should go without saying that they are incredibly costly and a huge drain on resources.

What steps are being taken to reduce these cases?

From both a business and patient care perspective, it’s clear that these never events need to be eradicated. Whether that’s ever going to be completely possible is a debate in itself – but there’s no doubt that the numbers can be reduced.

The NHS have taken steps to at least try and tackle the issue. In 2013 a taskforce was commissioned which resulted in a new set of standards for the problem.

However, considering the fact that these statistics are over the last few years, it could be argued that these steps haven’t been successful and more needs to be done to curb these costs.