A SURGICAL sponge was left inside a patient following an operation at Great Western Hospital, it has emerged.

The error happened when a man was having 10 teeth removed at the hospital.

The Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has apologised for the incident describing the ‘never event’ as a very rare mistake.

The man, who cannot be identified due to patient confidentiality, had to be anaesthetised a second time to have the sponge removed as he recovered from his initial treatment.

He suffered no long-term injury from the blunder.

The Adver approached the trust and requested an interview with a hospital official but it declined and instead released a statement.

A trust spokesman said: “The throat pack was retrieved while the patient was still in hospital with no resulting physical harm.

“We encourage a culture of openness and transparency, having reported this publicly and have explained what happened and apologised to the patient.

“We take such incidents very seriously and learning will be shared and actions put in place to help prevent similar mistakes.”

The matter has been reported to the Care Quality Commission and the governmental health watchdog Monitor.

A CQC spokesman said: “We would expect the trust to look into the circumstances of the incident to ensure that it never happens again.”

NHS England has a list of ‘never events’ encouraging healthcare providers to be responsible and ensure preventable errors don’t happen.

Each never event type has the potential to cause serious patient harm or death.

However, serious harm or death is not required to have happened as a result of a specific incident occurrence for that incident to be categorised as a never event.

There are an extensive list of never events with the incident at GWH falling into the retained foreign object post-procedure.

NHS England guidelines state: “Foreign object includes any items that should be subject to a formal counting or checkingprocess at the commencement of the procedure and a counting or checking process before the procedure is completed.”

These objects include swabs, needles, instruments and guide wires.

To see the full 'never events' list visit www.england.nhs.uk