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Serious injuries suffered by those in health and care settings have surged by 30% in the last five years, Byline Times can reveal.
Some 65,053 serious injuries were logged by the Care Quality Commission in 2022, a nearly 15,000 rise on the 50,432 figure recorded in 2018.
By injury, the CQC means serious often irreparable, physical and psychological injuries, which range from broken bones at the light end to sexual assaults, heart attacks, permanent brain damage, being paralysed and more.
As part of the investigation, this paper also examined recent legal action taken by the CQC.
At one care home in Humberside, a resident was sexually assaulted by another resident, who staff had been told was a serial sex offender but took no action to protect other residents. The CQC fined the home £154,932.
One NHS Trust was fined £1,375,712 after pleading guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to two patients.
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One was incorrectly connected to a dialysis machine. He was found by staff bleeding heavily from a disconnected line, resuscitation was attempted but was unsuccessful, and he died.
Byline Times also identified cases of patients falling through windows and off balconies, staff failing to safeguard patients from committing suicide, accidentally burning patients and carers breaking the bones of care home residents.
The figures were sourced via Freedom of Information request to the CQC, the regulator that health and social care providers are mandated to inform every time there is a death or serious injury in their care.
There was no similar rise in deaths recorded as with injuries – likely due to the impact of Covid – with the figure sitting around 180,000 every year, except 2020 when it rose to 212,114.
Across the five years analysed, in total just under one million (929,363) deaths in care were logged with the CQC.
When these notices are made it is not always an indication of any wrongdoing – if someone dies of natural causes in a care home or has an unpreventable medical incident at hospital they would be included in the data – but significant changes in the figures can be indicative of wider strains on the health service.
Chris Thomas, the head of the Commission on Health and Prosperity at the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank, warned that the “stark” figures were indicative of a health and social care system that was “running absolutely hot at the very top of its possible capacity after a lot of resource cuts and efficiency drives”.
“You create a system where these things are much more likely, whether that’s because of lack of oversight, because people are trying to do too much, or because, as is pretty persistent in both hospitals and care homes, safe staffing levels are not being met,” he added.
A CQC spokesperson said the data was used to “helps us to monitor services continuously”, adding that it was “listening to the voices of people who receive care” and “working hard to drive improvement and hold providers to account where this is not happening”.
The Department for Health and Social Care did not respond to a request for comment.