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NHS: Negligence

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 114179, tabled on 11 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many medication errors have occurred in the NHS in each of the last three years; and what steps his Department is taking to prevent those errors.

Answered on

24 November 2020

The number of medication related incidents reported to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) as occurring in England in the last three years is shown in the following table. A patient safety incident is defined as any incident which could have, or did, harm a patient receiving National Health Service-funded care and is not synonymous with error. Incidents reported do not represent the actual number of incidents which may have occurred.

Reported incident type

April 2017 - March 2018

April 2018 - March 2019

April 2019 - March 2020








The medication category represents approximately 10% of reported incidents per year. Incidents reported under other categories such as medical device incidents may also partly relate to medication – for example when medication is given via a medical device. This data is publicly available at the following link:

The Medicines Safety Improvement Board continues to work to deliver the recommendations of the Short Life Working Group (SLWG), which advised on how to improve safety in the use of medicines. A review of the progress against the recommendations of the SLWG is being conducted on behalf of the National Director of Patient Safety and is expected to report to the Medicines Safety Improvement Board in December.