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Some NHS trusts see rise in avoidable harm

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Analysis by LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal has identified the NHS providers whose patients are suffering increasing levels of avoidable harm, bucking a national trend of continuous month-on-month improvement.

Health reporting HSJ and LGC logo

Nationally, the proportion of patients suffering “new harms” classed as avoidable, such as falls and pressure ulcers, fell by more than a quarter between April and December 2012.

But despite the general improvement, five trusts reported that over 3% more patients were suffering from “new harms” in December, compared with the beginning of 2012-13.

The organisation with the biggest reported drop in performance was Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust, the only foundation trust among the five. The provider reported 9% of patients suffered new harms in December, compared with 3.6% in July - the trust’s first month of reporting. All of the decline occurred between November and December.

A Hillingdon spokeswoman said the trust had identified a “data quality issue” relating to December, and had introduced “more robust monitoring” of data and more training for staff.

Two orthopaedic hospitals reported increases in new harms: the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust, with an increase of 3.1 percentage points, and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation Trust, which reported a 2.5 point rise.

Many of the trusts with the highest rate of “new harms” have other existing financial and performance problems. These include Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust, which was at or below the national average level until December, when its level of harms increased, and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells admitted it needed to improve performance on falls and pressure ulcers, and said an improvement plan was in place. However, a spokeswoman added that its data could not be accurately compared to other trusts.

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