Hundreds of Unnecessary Deaths in One NHS Hospital

A new public inquiry into abuses at the Mid Staffordshire National Health Service Trust’s hospital has found a years-long pattern of fatal mistakes and abuses. The report makes for damning reading. From the BBC report:

Years of abuse and neglect at the hospital led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients.

But inquiry chairman, Robert Francis QC, said the failings went right to the top of the health service.

While it is well-known the trust management ignored patients’ complaints, local GPs and MPs also failed to speak up for them, the inquiry said.

The local primary care trust and regional health authority were too quick to trust the hospital’s management and national regulators were not challenging enough.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing was highlighted for not doing enough to support its members who were trying to raise concerns.

The Department of Health was also criticised for being too “remote” and embarking on “counterproductive” reorganisations.

The report said the failings created a culture where the patient was not put first.

Specifically, the report cites 1200 “unnecessary deaths” due to poor care, without a single manager having been held responsible. But the United Kingdom keeps health care costs down!

Twitter hashtag “#welovethenhs” is again trending.

10 thoughts on “Hundreds of Unnecessary Deaths in One NHS Hospital

  1. I don’t really understand your animus against the NHS. I will surely grant you that the NHS is not perfect and is in need of reform. However, you might want to add these statistics to your one-sided analysis.

    The Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 individuals die annually due to lack of health insurance in the US;

    The Institute of Medicine also estimates that roughly 98,000 individuals die from preventable medical errors annually in US hospitals

    1. Direct government provision of health care just doesn’t work at all well. I’m not saying the US system is the best of all possible worlds here (although I will take the numbers you cite over 1200 preventable, unaccountable deaths at a single hospital). You seem to be falling for what Tyler Cowen calls the fallacy of “mood affiliation.”

  2. First, I don’t believe that a government-run hospital/ health system is inherently superior to a private-run hospital/ health system.

    Second, I don’t think pointing out that medical errors and negligence exist across hospitals is a “fallacy.” It may show that hospitals are complex systems, and there are tradeoffs in any system- regardless of country. This is not a logical error, but a symptom of people only providing information that configures to their ex-ante assumptions.

    1. The fact that you immediately referenced U.S. figures led me to believe that you considered any attack on the NHS to be a defense of the U.S. health care system, at least by comparison. I’m certainly not a health care status quo-ist, and the evidence I’ve seen suggests that certain universal health insurance systems, like the French, Swiss, and Singaporean, perform better on average than the U.S. system (although they are not my ideal either). But British-style nationalization of health care delivery is one of the worst of all available options, as recent stories about NHS abuses (not just mistakes, mind) help to demonstrate.

    1. The problem with the ACA is that it forbids actuarially sound rating principles. The Ben Smith article is right on: the ACA is engaging in redistribution, from those who are generally healthy to those who are generally unhealthy. That’s not the same as insurance, which protects against risks of unforeseen events. Aging is fully foreseen. We can “insure against” its consequences by saving when we are younger and by having children.

      Community rating can also exacerbate moral hazard inherent in insurance. On net, moral people will become obese because of the ACA, at least in states that did not previously have state-level community rating and had robust nongroup health insurance markets, because community rating reduces the financial cost of obesity.

  3. The problem in the US isn’t due to not having the NHS, it’s due to not having universal healthcare. (And also to high personal expenditures on treatments with little impact on outcomes statistics)

    57 countries don’t have the NHS but do have Universal Healthcare.

    NHS generally has below average outcomes.

    People trying to cove up the NHS’s opportunities to improve always quote the US because it has poor average performance and many unfunded people. An honest comparison would be all the other developed countries with universal care.

    Interestingly, for similar reasons, the anti-universal care lobby in the US always use the NHS as their example because it has poor results and many high profile failures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s