Alarm bells should ring after 11 serious incidents reported by Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Tue 1st Aug 2017

Eleven serious incidents, including a ‘Never Event’, were reported by the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in June. Rachel Pearce from Coodes Solicitors’ Clinical Negligence team comments.

Board papers just released by the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) report that there were 11 serious incidents at Cornwall’s main hospital, Treliske, in June. These include one ‘Never Event’ – a term for an especially serious event, which should never occur if correct procedures are followed. The board papers are available here.

Accordingly to news reports, the Never Event that took place in June involved the wrong implant being used during an endoscopy. It is always very concerning when a Never Event is reported. The NHS defines these as ‘serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if existing national guidance or safety recommendations have been implemented by healthcare providers.’ The NHS also acknowledges that these events can highlight weaknesses in how an organisation ‘manages fundamental safety processes’. Because of patient confidentiality we do not know the details of the Never Event that took place at Treliske in June, but we can assume that RCHT will be thoroughly investigating the reasons why it occurred as well as putting in place urgent measures to ensure it does not happen again.

Thankfully Never Events are rare. Looking at figures from across the UK, most hospitals reported one or two Never Events between April and June. Four hospital trusts, including RCHT reported as many as three over the second quarter of the year.

The serious incidents reported by the Trust in June also included alleged abuse, a patient fall and delays in treatment. From my experience of working around the country, 11 serious incidents is a high number to report in just one month. The board papers also reveal that there are currently 61 serious incidents under investigation at the RCHT.

These statistics should set alarm bells ringing with the RCHT. The priority now should be for the Trust to thoroughly investigate these incidents and address any underlying issues at the hospital. Fortunately many people have a positive experience with their treatment in hospital. However, I would advise anyone who has been affected by a serious incident to consider taking legal action to seek compensation.

For advice on any of these issues, please contact Rachel Pearce in the Clinical Negligence team at Coodes Solicitors on 01326 318900 or

Tue 1st Aug 2017

Rachel Pearce

Head of Clinical Negligence & Personal Injury

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