All areas of the NHS, that is, Hospital Trusts, GPs, The Ambulance Service and Dentists, are required to report any adverse incidents that occur to an NHS body, called the National Reporting and Learning Service, on a monthly basis. This information is then collated and published on their website and is accessible to anyone – so you could, if you were interested, view the report on Colchester Hospital, for example.

If we take headline statistics across the whole of the NHS for the year which ended in March 2014, there were 1,471,176 incidents reported. This may sound like an awful lot, but they are required to report all incidents, even where no harm has been caused to the patient, of which there are over 1 million or approximately 68% of the total.

The number of incidents classified as severe was 6,517 during that period and the number that resulted in death 3,785 – a very small proportion of the total reported.