error In maternity wards, the NHS costs nearly £ 1 billion a year, the former health minister warns today.
Jeremy Hunt has announced that almost twice as much is being spent on lawsuits after mothers and babies are poorly cared for than on the combined pay of all occupational doctors in England's hospitals.
The spend was part of the staggering £ 2.4 billion healthcare bill for legal fees and compensation in 2018-19.
A nurse makes a video of a premature baby to send to the baby's parents at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey
Mr Hunt, now chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee, also uncovered figures showing that three-quarters of hospitals refuse to publish reliable data on the number of preventable deaths of patients in their care – three years after he ordered it .
He highlighted research showing that up to 150 lives are unnecessarily lost in NHS hospitals every week. When he wrote for the Mail today, he described it as "excruciatingly high".
In a damned verdict on the system he once ran, Hunt says the scandal is widespread, affecting babies, working mothers, teenagers with mental health problems, and those with dementia.
He is particularly concerned about the unnecessary harm done to maternity services – and received figures through a freedom of information request showing that £ 952 million was paid out for litigation and compensation related to the sector in 2018/19.
Jeremy Hunt will be seen at St. George & # 39; s Hospital in Tooting, West London, in 2017. As Minister of Health in 2017, Mr. Hunt ordered Trusts to publish data on the number of preventable deaths in hospitals – calling it the "biggest global health scandal".
By comparison, the total salaries of all obstetricians and gynecologists working in the UK health service were £ 586 million. Overall, the NHS disbursed £ 2.4 billion on litigation this year – the latest figures available – up £ 137 million from the previous year.
Regarding the large difference in the numbers, Mr. Hunt writes: "Something went bad."
As Minister of Health in 2017, Mr. Hunt ordered Trusts to publish data on the number of preventable deaths in hospitals – calling it "the biggest global health scandal".
Freedom of information responses from a snapshot of 59 hospital trusts – roughly half the total – found that less than a quarter provided meaningful data on unnecessary deaths.
Only 14 out of 59 hospitals were ready to provide the data. Another ten said they did not suffer any unnecessary deaths between 2017 and 2019 – including two major teaching hospitals in London – which is statistically highly unlikely.
Another 25 trusts said they had less than five preventable deaths in those three years, which is also extremely unlikely. The remaining ten refused to publish any data at all, with some claiming the information was "confidential".
Mr. Hunt, who served as Minister of Health for nearly six years from 2012 to 2018, believes one of the main problems is that staff do not admit their mistakes.
Last month, the mail revealed that one of the country's largest hospitals was suspected of covering up baby deaths by failing to report suspicious cases to coroners.
East Kent Hospitals, at the center of a comprehensive study of maternity failure, reported only 24 out of 124 deaths in the past seven years.
In his letter for the Post, Mr. Hunt cited "major cultural challenges" preventing doctors and nurses from accepting blame, including hunting down lawyers "who get involved almost immediately".
Mr. Hunt, who served as Minister of Health for nearly six years from 2012 to 2018, believes one of the main problems is that staff do not admit their mistakes
However, he fears that the deeply rooted problems will be "forgotten too quickly" unlike the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to lead to extensive public investigation and reform.
Says Mr. Hunt, “We have an appallingly high level of preventable harm and death in our healthcare system. In healthcare, we just seem to accept this as inevitable. "
Mr Hunt also cited research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which found 4 percent of all health care deaths were potentially preventable, the equivalent of up to 150 deaths per week.
Rachel Power, General Manager of the Patients Association, said, “This ongoing lack of transparency about preventable deaths is deeply worrying. A culture of cover-up and a lack of transparency have long been the least attractive features of the NHS and should be addressed urgently. "
Peter Walsh of the Patient Safety Charity, Action Against Medical Accidents, said: "It is scandalous that so many trusts are not making their data on preventable death public."
An NHS spokesperson said: "Providing the safest possible health care for patients is a priority, and national policy on learning from deaths is clear that hospitals must publish this information every three months, as well as an annual summary, so that it is clear about all identified Problems and How to Address Them. "