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UK to probe 1000s of avoidable deaths at NHS hospitals

8 February 2015 12:02

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The British health secretary says around 12,000 patients are dying unnecessarily each year in the hospitals run by the publicly-funded National Health Service (NHS), ordering a probe into avoidable deaths.

In an interview with The Telegraph on Saturday, Jeremy Hunt said blunders of health workers at NHS hospitals lead to some 1,000 avoidable deaths per month.

The senior UK health official further described the figures as “the biggest scandal in global healthcare,” stressing that sweeping reforms are needed to improve the situation.

He also unveiled new plans to reduce mortality rates by annually reviewing a sample of 2,000 deaths at hospitals across Britain.

“This policy is the most profound change to happen while I am health secretary. It is about changing behavior and the way everyone works in the NHS,” Hunt said.

He further underscored the need to end NHS “cover-up culture”, which is putting lives at risk in British hospitals.

The remarks come as the UK’s Department of Health has asked Robert Francis – a barrister who specializes in medical legal issues – to produce an independent report into the treatment of doctors and nurses who tried to blow the whistle on poor care at NHS hospitals. The review is expected to be published on Wednesday.

In December 2014, a study found that the number of lawsuits against the NHS clinical negligence has doubled under the leadership of British Prime Minister David Cameron. The study by the health system’s Litigation Authority revealed that 11,945 lawsuits were reported against the NHS over in 2013-2014 year compared with 6,562 in 2009-10.

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