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Patient Safety Not Addressed by NHS

Safety lapses that result in almost 34,000 deaths a year in hospitals are not being addressed by the NHS according to the Healthcare Commission which inspects the NHS.// The independent health watchdog alleges that patient safety and medical errors are a low priority for the NHS.

Although the exact number of deaths caused by poor safety standards is not known completely previous studies have estimated it is up to 34,000 a year. Statistics have shown that a tenth of patients suffer a safety lapse in hospital while around nine per cent suffer an infection there.

In spite of these figures half of NHS trusts appears not to have taken any action to ensure the problem does not happen again, according to new data from the Commission.

The Commission blames "inconsistent" standards nationwide for high levels of infections, medication blunders and clinical negligence in its annual State of Healthcare report that was published today. In addition they have noted a lack of dignity and respect for elderly people in these hospitals This problem is not only widespread in just the NHS but in private hospitals as well.

The report stated that at least one in 10 NHS trusts could not confirm they were meeting minimum standards on safety. One in 10 independent providers have also been asked to improve their safety standards. 11 per cent of the trusts could not assure the commission that systems were in place to reduce the risk of these infections.

Chairman Professor Sir Ian Kennedy said "The NHS needs to take safety more seriously. It is frustrating that in 2006 we do not have a clearer idea of how many people die or are harmed in hospitals when this could have been avoided.

"We should all be troubled when the National Audit Office states that estimates of death as a result of patient safety incidents range from 840 to 34,000, but in reality the NHS simply does not know.

"I recognize that it is not
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