Operating on the wrong body parts, putting in the wrong implants and leaving things behind after an operation are some of the mishaps at Guy’s and St Thomas’ that we report this week.
They are attention-grabbing howlers – but they are rare ones. The trust is right to point out that it is a large organisation which sees millions of patients of year.
Of those many patients, there was only seventeen ‘never event’ cases in the past two years.
However, these incidents are called ‘never events’ for a reason: they are not supposed to happen.
They are defined as wholly avoidable patient safety incidents which have potential to cause serious harm or death. So any occurrence of such incidents is worthy of scrutiny and highlighting.
But we would not want readers to come away from our story with the impression that care is somehow unsafe at two major local hospitals. It is not. Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust is rated ‘good’ for a reason. Inspectors praise staff for recognising and learning from mistakes when they happen.
This is the thing to focus on. Everyone makes mistakes at work – and as readers will know, the NHS is under tremendous amounts of pressure, particularly in inner-city London.
So we salute hard-working doctors, nurses and surgeons working in the trust; and recognise that they, like the rest of us, are only human.