Inquiry call as hospital deaths caused by safety breaches more than double in 12 months

Inquiry call as hospital deaths caused by safety breaches more than double in 12 months

Deaths in Welsh NHS hospitals caused by breaches in patient safety have more than doubled since 2016, according to figures released today by Welsh Government.

Angela Burns AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, called the trend “deeply concerning” and urged the Welsh Government to launch an inquiry into the issue.

In 2017, 77 patient deaths resulting from what NHS Wales describes as an “unintended or unexpected incident” were recorded across seven health boards – this compared to 31 deaths a year earlier, marking a 116% year-on-year rise.

More than half (53%) of these deaths – 41 – in 2017 came from Betsi Cadwaladr health board, which is currently in special measures – the highest form of Welsh Government intervention.

In the same period, Cardiff and Vale health board recorded 12 deaths; Aneurin Bevan, Hywel Dda, Welsh Ambulance Trust and Powys Teaching each recorded seven deaths; while Powys Teaching documented three.

Patient safety incidents are broken down into five classifications of severity, ranging from ‘no harm’ to ‘death’. Incidents ranging from ‘moderate’ to ‘death’ were highest in Powys Teaching health board, which accounted for 24% of incidents recorded.

Overall, incidents involving breaches of patient safety have risen by 16%, from 80,088 in 2016 to 92,527 in 2017.

Commenting, Angela Burns AM said: “It’s is deeply concerning for patients and the public to see deaths linked to safety breaches more than double in the space of a mere 12 months.

“We urgently need to get to the bottom of why this is happening and to discern whether this is because of incompetent leadership, or whether financial and workforce pressures are to blame.

“Questions over why Betsi Cadwaladr – now more than two years into special measures – are faring particularly poorly in this respect also need to be answered.

“I therefore urge the Cabinet Secretary to instigate an immediate inquiry into why the safety of Welsh NHS patients is becoming increasingly compromised under his Government’s watch.”


Data on patient safety can be access in full via the links below:



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Team @ AberdareOnline

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