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17 hospital operation blunders makes Barts NHS trust worst in Britain, survey reveals

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 September 2019

Barts Health carries out more surgery operations than any other NHS hospital trust. Picture: Barts NHS

Barts Health carries out more surgery operations than any other NHS hospital trust. Picture: Barts NHS

Barts NHS

Britain's biggest NHS trust which runs five major hospitals in the City and east London has taken action to improve medical procedures after being listed worst in the country for surgical blunders.

Barts Health trust listed as having 17 medical blunders in just 16 months. Picture: Mike BrookeBarts Health trust listed as having 17 medical blunders in just 16 months. Picture: Mike Brooke

As many as 17 patients have suffered blunders in just 16 months by Barts Health NHS Trust, including eight "wrong surgeries".

The major hospitals it runs are the Royal London in Whitechapel where London's emergency air ambulance is based and St Bartholemew's in the City with the UK's largest cancer treatment centre, as well as the Newham in Plaistow and Whipps Cross in Leytonstone.

Barts said in a statement to the East London Advertiser: "We take these failures seriously. All these were investigated and action has been taken for improvements."

The 17 mistakes were described as causing "no harm or low harm", though admitting this was "still not acceptable".

Barts Health is listed worst for surgical mistakes in a survey by the Press Association which found 621 patents up and down the country getting wrong treatment from NHS trusts.

The Royal London in Whitechapel, one of the major hospitals run by Barts NHS trust. Picture: Mike BrookeThe Royal London in Whitechapel, one of the major hospitals run by Barts NHS trust. Picture: Mike Brooke

It is Britain's biggest hospital trust by far and undertakes more operations and surgical procedures than any other, which may account for the highest number of mistakes compared to hospitals elsewhere.

Two other London NHS trusts were both named "third worst" on the blunder list, Guy's & St Thomas's and University College London with 12 mistakes each.

The national survey across the county revealed operations on wrong body parts or surgical tools left inside patients, wrong blood type given, ordinary air rather given rather than pure oxygen, drugs overdoses including insulin, feeding tubes wrongly fitted or people having the wrong teeth taken out.

One patient had the wrong toe amputated, six women had ovaries removed in error and several patients had procedures intended for someone else.

The NHS treats 500 million patients every year, it points out, so such incidents were "extremely rare".

Barts NHS trust... Barts NHS trust... "We take failures seriously and action has been taken for improvements." Picture: Mike Brooke

But Royal College of Surgeons president Prof Derek Alderson said: "These rare cases are exceptionally traumatic for patients and their families. It is vital that all operating theatre staff use the World Health Organisation checklist to help prevent serious incidents or from happening again."

A report by the Care Quality Commission last December found that errors continue despite staff "struggling to cope with large volumes of safety guidance" on top of a demanding and busy role.

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