Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust in Essex has breached more serious patient safety rules than any other institution in England over the past year, NHS figures have shown. 

The Independent reports that nine errors, deemed so serious they should never happen (or ‘never events’) occurred at the trust between 2014 and 2015. As many as 420 ‘serious incidents’ also took place. Mistakes included one ‘wrong implant’, five counts of items being left inside patients’ bodies and three separate ‘wrong site’ surgeries.

The damning results come as Essex Police continue to investigate whether staff have committed any criminal offences in connection with allegations that cancer data was manipulated at the trust, BBC News reported.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, described the situation as ‘utterly unacceptable’. Commenting on the results, she said: “Incidents of wrong site surgery and retained foreign objects … pose a huge risk to patient safety.

"A visit to hospital can be highly stressful at the best of times and at the very least, patients deserve to be treated in a safe, regulated environment."

She hoped that vital lessons are learnt to ensure that the mistakes are not repeated.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement: "We care for hundreds of thousands of patients every year and we usually get it right, which is why there has always been so much goodwill for us in the community and why in 2014/15 we received 23 plaudits for every complaint.

"However, health care can be very complex and we do sometimes make mistakes. In those circumstances, it's essential that we're open and honest about them and, importantly, use them as learning opportunities that will help us to improve our services and make them safer.

"The trust, therefore, proactively encourages all staff to be open and to report incidents, and has a 'no blame' policy so that learning can take place to prevent recurrence."

Rebecca Morgan of Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team said: “’Never events’ are classed as serious medical incidents that should never happen if the relevant protocols and preventative measures have been implemented. Such mistakes have the potential to cause serious harm or even death. At Penningtons Manches we have experience of dealing with claims arising out of ‘never events’ and are able to provide specialist advice and support to patients who have experienced these breaches.”