When things go wrong with NHS care – and taking steps to put them right

Health service errors can have devastating consequences for patients and their families, says clinical adviser to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Barbara Cannon

Earlier this year we heard that Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust failed to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 patients with mental health problems. This reminded me just how important my work is as a clinical adviser to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which makes final decisions on unresolved complaints about the NHS in England.

I joined the organisation five years ago and have worked as a mental health nurse in the NHS for more than 25 years. I have had a fantastic career, worked alongside first-class professionals who put their patients first, and I am proud to be part of our NHS.

Unfortunately, I also learned very early on in my career that, like all human beings, doctors and nurses occasionally make mistakes and don’t always take steps to put them right.

As a young nursing student, a man died on the ward I


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