‘Never’ events are defined by NHS Improvement as serious incidents which, as the name suggests, should not occur under any circumstance, due to the guidance and safety recommendations that the NHS implements at a national level.

The incidents include operations carried out on the wrong body part or wrong patient, as well as injuries caused by surgical implements being left inside patients. 

‘Never’ events only account for a minor proportion of all surgeries carried out by NHS England. On average, 4.6 million surgical procedures are carried out every year and ‘never’ events are recorded only once in every 20,000 cases.

However a ‘never’ event is incredibly serious and steps have to be taken to prevent re-occurrence. The NHS aims to be open and transparent in all aspects of patient safety, in order to learn from their mistakes.

Thompsons Solicitors’ ‘Patients Before Profits’ campaign was launched because it became clear in our work for the victims of Paterson that private health services fail to follow the same rules as the NHS. 

Following investigations into Paterson and more recently, victims of the mesh procedure, Thompsons is calling for the same level of transparency and accountability of medical practitioners wherever they practice, in private hospitals or the NHS.

"The statistics suggest that NHS trusts are not being provided with adequate government funding to eradicate the most serious acts of negligence, or prevent further events occurring in the future."

Linda Millband
Head of Clinical Negligence Strategy

Linda Millband, head of clinical negligence strategy at Thompsons Solicitors said: “Never events are extremely serious and by their very name, should not occur at any time.

“The statistics indicate that one event occurs each day, which suggests that clinical negligence cases are prevalent and that NHS trusts are not being provided with adequate government funding to eradicate the most serious acts of negligence, or prevent further events occurring in the future.

“Informed consent make up a significant proportion of the duty doctors have to their patients. Since the Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board case in 2015, it is a doctor’s duty to ensure the patient is aware of all reasonable risks which exist, so the patient can make a reasoned decision regarding whether or not to have the operation.

“Anyone who believes they may have suffered medical negligence should make a formal complaint to the hospital trust and seek legal advice from an independent law firm experienced in clinical negligence cases.”