The numbers aren't coming down because doctors are often closing ranks and not admitting their errors—and so improvements aren't being put in place.
But National Health Service (NHS) senior executives want to start reversing the trend by introducing new measures that encourage all hospital staff to spot risks and errors earlier, and before there's a death. They are hoping the new initiative will save 1,000 lives a year within five years.
Under the new initiative, every hospital will have a dedicated person that nurses and doctors can approach when an error that may endanger life is suspected. In addition, all hospital staff will be trained in identifying safety incidents and reporting them.
In announcing the new plan, Dr Aidan Fowler, the NHS's director of patient safety, said he wants to introduce a more "just" culture that doesn't fall back on a blame game and a closing of ranks when errors do happen.
The anticipated drop in hospital deaths will come from improved drug prescribing and a reduction in falls, Dr Fowler said. There will also be an improvement in maternity services.
Very few deaths are the result of deliberate wrongdoing but are more often down to honest mistakes or problems with systems, including drug prescribing, he added.