Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt says basic mistakes could be costing the NHS up to £2.5 billion each year.

In a recent speech at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Mr Hunt said the NHS is losing money because of blunders such as medication errors, avoidable infections and litigation.

He described the mistakes as “expensive and wasteful”, adding that the NHS would be able to afford more nursing staff if simple errors were eradicated.

According to a report commissioned by the Department of Health, the cost of such mistakes is “likely to be more than 1 billion”, and could potentially be as much as £2.5 billion.

Around half of the total is spent upon litigation costs, with the NHS paying out £1.3 billion in compensation in 2012/13 alone.

The Department of Health has noted four main areas of poor patient safety: trips and falls, pressure sores, deep vein thrombosis and urinary tract infections from poorly fitted catheters.

However, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, has blamed the mistakes on understaffed wards.

“Falls and preventable conditions such as pressure ulcers happen when there are not enough staff on a ward to care properly for every patient, not because nurses are unaware that these things should be prevented”, he said.

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