Financial & Legal News

NHS Never Events on the increase

  • Posted on

Several North West Hospitals have formed part of a recent report into never events which includes botched surgeries, the wrong limbs operated upon and medical items left inside patients after surgery.

What is a Never Event?

Medical negligence solicitors say that these mistakes are known in the NHS as “never events” because they should never have been allowed to happen.

According to NHS England never events are “serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if healthcare providers have implemented existing national guidance or safety recommendations”.

For a list of never events see our page.

NHS Never Events 2021 versus 2020

A total of 407* ‘never events’ have been reported in the past year (April 2021 – March 2022) in hospitals across the country and local hospitals have been listed in the report by NHS England. This is an increase in the total number of never events reported the previous year (April 2020 - March 2021) which was 364*.

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (previously the Pennine Acute Trust) has reported two such events, in both cases surgery was performed on the wrong part of the body.  Whilst Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust recorded a total of 11 never events in the same period.

Type of Never Event 2021 2020
Wrong site surgery 171 142
Retained foreign object post procedure 98 80
Wrong implant/prosthesis 47 30
Misplaced naso or oro gastric tubes and feed administered 31 34
Administration of medication by the wrong route 21 24
Unintentional connection of a patient requiring oxygen to an air flowmeter 13 28
Overdose of insulin due to abbreviations or incorrect device 11 8
Transfusion or transplantation of ABO incompatible blood components or organs 7 8
Falls from poorly restricted windows 3 -
Mis selection of high strength midazolam during conscious sedation 2 1
Overdose of methotrexate for non-cancer treatment 2 -
Mis selection of a strong potassium solution 1 2
Failure to install functional collapsible shower or curtain rails - 4
Scalding of patients - 2
Chest or neck entrapment in bedrails - 1

*Numbers are subject to change as local investigations are completed as stated on the Provisional publication of Never Events reported.

Drill bits, wire cutters, vaginal swabs, part of a scalpel blade and the bolt from surgical forceps are just some of the items which have been left behind after surgery during the past year.

The wrong hips have been replaced, ovaries removed accidentally from one patient, whilst others have had the wrong knee implant carried out.

Claiming for an NHS Never Event

Commenting on the news and report, medical negligence solicitor, Jacqueline White, says:

“When patients go into hospital they expect the right treatment and whilst we accept that sometimes mistakes can be made these so called ‘never events’ can be traumatic.”

“Imagine waking from surgery only to have to go through it all again because a surgical swab or drill bit has been left inside. It is important to record these events and learn from mistakes made,” she adds.

How can we help

“From a medical negligence claim point of view Never Events are usually indefensible and victims should seek advice from a specialist medical negligence solicitor on whether they are entitled to compensation in relation to the treatment that they have received.” added Jacqueline.

For advice on a never event claim contact our specialist medical negligence solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Jacqueline White


    How can we Help?

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    We’ll only use this information to handle your enquiry and we won’t share it with any third parties.