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‘Never events’ highest at Colchester Hospital University Trust

‘Never events’ are when surgical equipment such as swabs, scissors and needles are left inside patients after an operation.  They should never happen, fortunately, they are extremely rare but it appears that some hospitals make more mistakes than others.

Colchester Hospital is currently under the spotlight after there were five ‘never events’ recorded last year which means that Colchester Hospital University Trust had ‘nine events’ in total which is an increase of one from 2013. The Hospital also had 420 episodes described as “serious incidents” in 2014.

These “never events” were “utterly unacceptable” and preventable according to the Patients Association.  The five cases included items being left inside patients, one “wrong implant” and three “wrong site” surgery cases.

Chief executive of the Patients Association, Katherine Murphy said: “Incidents of wrong site surgery’ and ‘retained foreign objects’ are utterly unacceptable and pose a huge risk to patient safety.

“A visit to hospital can be highly stressful at the best of times and at the very least, patients deserve to be treated in a safe, regulated environment.”

It’s “vital lessons are learnt each time to ensure that they are not repeated”.

The hospital has one of the highest number of ‘never events’ in England and is currently in the midst of a police probe into data manipulation.  Essex Police are investigating whether any criminal offences were committed during alleged cancer data manipulation at the Trust.

Hospitals with the highest number of never events 2014-15


Hospital Trusts


Number of ‘never events’


Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust





King’s College Hospital NHS Trust





Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust





University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust





Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust





Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn NHS Trust


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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust




Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust



A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust said: “The National Patient Safety Agency advocates trusts must be open, report and learn from incidents and ranks organisations according to the numbers of incidents reported. 

“High reporting of incidents is viewed positively because it shows an organisation encourages transparency and learning.

“The trust, therefore, proactively encourages all staff to be open and to report incidents and has a ‘no blame’ policy so learning can take place to prevent recurrence.”

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