Patient safety breaches on the up across Wales, with more deaths reported in worst-performing Betsi

Deaths as a result of patient safety incidents have increased again in blighted North Wales health board Betsi Cadwaladr, as last month saw a leap in safety breaches reported across the country.

Figures released this morning by The Welsh Government show that there were 23 deaths reported as a result of patient safety breaches in Wales in May. 10 of these were in Betsi Cadwaladr, where previous numbers were already the worst in the country.

The total number of reported deaths under Betsi for the first five months of the year now stands at 18, two more than the rest of Wales put together.

Of the remaining Welsh fatalities reported in May as a result of patient safety breaches, nine occurred under Aneurin Bevan University Health Board; which had previously not reported a death of this nature since November 2018.

Three deaths happened in Cardiff & Vale, which had not reported a death linked with patient safety for over a year; and one in Hywel Dda.

The same figures have also shown that there were 11,476 breaches of patient safety in hospitals reported across Wales in May this year, compared to 8,231 the previous month. The vast majority of these resulted in no or low levels of harm.

The number of severe patient safety breaches reported in May was 55, up from 17 in April. 21 of these were in Cardiff & Vale, 14 in Betsi Cadwaladr, three in Aneurin Bevan, three in Cwm Taf, eight in Hywel Dda, and six in Powys.

Commenting on the numbers, Shadow Health Minister Angela Burns AM said:

“People accessing health care under the Welsh NHS have enough to worry about at the moment, especially in North Wales, so these figures must make for worrying reading for patients.

“My thoughts also go out to the families of the people listed in today’s figures.

“While these numbers no doubt reflect on the pressure upon doctors in understaffed hospitals, the priority across the NHS is to keep patients safe and out of risk of unnecessary harm.

“It is vital the Health Minister takes notice of this increase, and an explanation into the rise over this year is given to patients and grieving families as soon as possible.”


Notes: For clarity, health boards are quick to point out that the numbers listed in these figures represent the month in which the death was reported, and not necessarily not when the death occurred.