BBC News reported today on a speech to be given by Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, informing doctors and nurses that their basic mistakes in hospitals cost the NHS up to £2.5bn a year.

Mr Hunt’s speech will focus on costs incurred through problems like medication errors, avoidable infections after surgery and basic lapses in nursing care. He will reportedly claim that the NHS could afford to hire more doctors and nurses if the errors were cut out, describing these mistake as “expensive and wasteful” at a time when hospital trusts are trying to save money.

He will say: “I want every director of every hospital trust to understand the impact this harm is having not just on their patients, but also on their finances… and I want every nurse in the country to understand that if we work together to make the NHS the safest healthcare organisation in the world, we could potentially release resources for additional nurses, additional training, and additional time to care… more resources should be invested in improving patient care rather than wasted on picking up the pieces when things go wrong.”

A recently-published report commissioned by the Department of Health described what it termed as “preventable adverse events” rather than mistakes, as costing the NHS “a significant amount of money”. It estimates the cost of such mistakes to be between £1bn and £2.5bn a year.

Four areas of poor patient safety highlighted by the Department of Health include falls and trips, bed ulcers, urinary infections caused by poorly fitted catheters, and deep vein thrombosis, which together cost an estimated £200m a year in extra care.

James Wickett, medical negligence specialist at Davies and Partners Solicitors, said: 

“That these mistakes keep being made time after time is unacceptable. Mr Hunt is to be applauded for moving patient safety up the agenda. Hopefully his actions will result in a culture change in the NHS and mean that our team of specialist medical negligence solicitors based in Birmingham, Bristol, Gloucester, London and North Devon see less and less of these avoidable mistakes”.