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Preventable hospital deaths to be slashed by a third under new NHS guidelines

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 26, 2014

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A third of preventable deaths could be avoided in future under new measures drawn up to improve transparency at NHS health trusts.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is calling on trusts to reduce the number of serious mistakes being made and help save up to 6,000 lives over the next three years.

Trusts that take action will get reduced premiums for insurance cover.

The push - called Sign up to Safety - will be voluntary and reliant on individual trusts identifying how many mistakes they make and coming up with plans to reduce them by half.

Primarily aimed at hospitals, other trusts including those providing mental health and community services are also being invited to take part.

Health chiefs in Gloucestershire insist steps have already been taken to help improve patient safety at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals.

Director of Safety Andrew Seaton said: “The safety of our patients is our priority and we have been running an extensive ‘reduction in harm programme’ with the South West Quality and Safety Initiative over the last five years.

“This has resulted in successful programmes to help prevent blood clots, reduce bed sores and a reduce drug errors as well as many other significant improvements.

“This has enabled the Trust to improve safety during this period by approximately 60 per cent.

“We believe any error is one too many and we will continue to learn from experience and make our hospitals as safe as they can be.

“We would welcome any measures that will help us achieve our aim to reduce avoidable harm and will be among the first to join the ‘sign up to safety’ scheme to enhance our existing safety programmes.”

Mr Hunt also said the NHS would be recruiting 5,000 safety champions in charge of identifying areas of unsafe care and developing solutions. It will be supported by a national Safety Action for England team with doctors, managers and patients working together on safety. A new section of the NHS Choices website will also be launched in June called ‘How Safe Is My Hospital’ allowing patients to compare patient safety across a range of indicators.

Mr Hunt said: “It is my clear ambition that the NHS should become the safest healthcare system anywhere in the world.”

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