Never Events are serious incidents that are entirely preventable because guidance or safety recommendations providing strong systemic barriers should be implemented by all healthcare providers.

In other words, Never Events should never occur while you are in the care of the NHS.

The NHS issued a list of Never Events on its website which helps to ‘support providers to give patients safe, high quality, compassionate care within local health systems that are financially sustainable.’

Examples of Never Events include;

  • The surgeons performing on the wrong patients
  • The surgeon performing at the wrong site
  • The retention of a foreign object post procedure

The General Medical Council (GMC) explains the effect of the relatively recent introduction of a ‘Duty of Candour’, in which applies to all medical professions and organisations to try to restore public confidence and stamp out any perceived ‘cover ups’ by the NHS.

Medics now must be ‘open and honest with patients when something goes wrong with their treatment or care causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress.’

This means that not only should a straightforward response to a complaint be made, identifying any mistakes so as to learn from them, but there is now a positive duty on the medical profession to notify managers and importantly, the patient themselves, should an issue arise within the patient’s treatment.

Although rare, we have seen examples of letters written to our clients ‘out of the blue’ from the NHS where mistakes have happened, apologising and explaining what is being done to avoid repeating them in the future.

More commonly, however, Never Events are things which are so serious and in breach of local policy or national guidelines issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) that they should have been prevented when adopting standard practice. In these cases, it is clear to the patient from the outset that something has gone badly wrong.

This year, the NHS produced a report on Never Events which stated NHS providers are encouraged to learn from their mistakes, and any professional or organisation that reports a Never Event is expected to conduct an investigation to take action on the underlying causes.

In the five-month period from 1 April to 31 August 2021, only 161 Never Events were reported.

Despite high practice standards and medicine-specific protocols being in place, Never Events can still sometimes occur.

If you or a loved one has experienced an easily avoidable injury or death as a direct consequence of negligent action or inaction, then do not hesitate to get into contact with our medical negligence expert solicitors at RHL Solicitors to discuss your claim on a confidential ‘No Win No Fee’ basis.