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Nhs Operations

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate how many instruments were retained after NHS operations in each of the last six years. [98919]

[holding answer 27 February 2003]: At the present time, we do not know how many medical errors of this kind affect national health service patients each year.However, retained instruments and in particular swabs, are a recognised patient safety issue, both nationally and internationally.The Government have established the National Patient Safety Agency to improve the safety of NHS patient care by promoting an open and fair culture and by introducing a national reporting and learning system for adverse events. It is planned for the system to be rolled out across the NSH from summer 2003. The reporting and learning system will, in time, enable us to understand the nature and extent of adverse events in the NHS, including material retained within patients, and take action to prevent them being repeated.