Claims the NHS is ‘not a safe service’ as report reveals hundreds of shocking failings

Picture by Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire.
Picture by Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire.
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The “human cost” of shocking failures and poor complaint handling by the NHS in England has been revealed amid increasing pressure on the service.

A report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman details 121 investigated NHS complaints, including eight from Yorkshire, highlighting three avoidable deaths and examples of poor end of life care and failures in nursing care.

In one example, a West Yorkshire GP practice apologised for failings after a complaint that a man’s GP did not fully consider his symptoms, such as feeling faint, to see if he needed to go to hospital. He later fell twice at home and was admitted to hospital – the second time he died.

It later emerged that, although the GP’s tests were generally thorough, he did not check blood pressure due to a lack of equipment. It could have led practice staff to act quicker.

Decisions on 556 complaints were made during the period, of which 201 were upheld or partially upheld. It investigated 58 cases of avoidable death and upheld or partially upheld 29.

MP for York Central Rachael Maskell, of the Government’s Health Select Committee, believes growing pressures on the NHS combined with continued savings mean it is “not a safe service”. She said: “Without doubt the pressures being put on NHS staff at this time will mean that you can’t have eyes and ears everywhere and that will impact on the service.”

In another case, a woman whose treatment by her GP practice, an out-of-hours GP and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust delayed her diagnosis. She died two weeks after being told she had bone cancer. The trust said it is “very sorry” and aims to ensure such incidents are isolated.

Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said that report shows “the human cost” of “poor service and complaint handling”.