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Eighteen patient deaths after Tees health trusts' safety lapses.


Eighteen people died at two Teesside hospital trusts following patient safety lapses during just 12 months.

Sixteen deaths were recorded at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and two at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The NHS defines patient safety incidents as any unintended or unexpected incidents that could, or did, lead to harm.

Both trusts said they encouraged staff to report safety incidents.

Examples of patient safety lapses include a failure to provide or monitor care, a communication breakdown, an out-of-control hospital infection, insufficient staffing or a missed diagnosis.

NHS England figures show that, between April 2021 and March this year, there were 16,557 incidents at South Tees Trust, which operates James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and Northallerton's Friarage Hospital. Thirty-four resulted in "severe" harm.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the figures were a concern and that he would raise them with South Tees Trust's chief executive.


He said NHS staff worked under "the most demanding of conditions" but added: "Every person going into hospital rightly expects to receive the best treatment. Patient safety is paramount and no family wants to see a loved one suffer."

The trust's chief medical officer, Dr Mike Stewart, said: "We encourage an open and transparent culture and promote the reporting of all patient safety incidents, even when there is uncertainty about a direct link between any problems in care and incidents of severe harm or death.

"No deaths were graded as definitely preventable due to a problem in the care delivered by the trust during the last year.

"While our reporting has increased consistently during the last three years, the number of serious incidents has not risen, which is strong evidence of a positive safety culture."

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which operates University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton, and the University Hospital of Hartlepool, recorded 8,446 patient safety incidents resulting in harm, of which 39 were categorized as severe.

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, said safety incidents "were always a concern" and added it was "vitally important that these are always reported as soon as possible.”

The trust's chief nurse, Lindsey Robertson, said the organisation "operates a culture of openness and honesty.”

She added: "We actively encourage staff to report any patient safety events. This has led to an increase in overall incident reporting, which allows us to examine every incident to learn as much as possible and make positive changes."

Across all NHS trusts in England there were 689,745 incidents resulting in harm to patients, the equivalent of 1,890 every day. A total of 5,803 patients died.