Friday, 21 August 2009

List of hospitals with high death rates published by NHS regulator

David Rose, Health Correspondent

A list of hospitals that have sparked safety alerts after unusually high numbers of patients died has been published by the NHS regulator.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed details of all trusts where mortality rates were high enough to require a formal investigation in the past two years.

Overall, there were 85 alerts that required investigations among trusts in England, but of those only seven were required to produce action plans to improve their care.

These included Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where an official report published in March found that appalling emergency care had led to between 400 and 1,200 patients dying needlessly.

The alerts, based on information from the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London and the CQC, are triggered if numbers of deaths among hospital patients admitted for particular conditions or procedures are significantly higher than expected.

The Department of Health said that it welcomed the publication of the data, which will be updated every three months. But Richard Lilford, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Birmingham, said that the data revealed little about the quality of care.

“We’re saying that these hospitals are bad apples. I don’t think the methodology is capable of doing that,” he told the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

The other trusts that required action plans were investigated in connection with their death rates in a range of patient groups, from newborn babies at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust to adults with broken hips at Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Death rates also triggered warnings among heart attack patients at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, those who suffered aneurysms at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and septicaemia (blood poisoning) at Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust.

Out of 45 alerts followed up with trusts, in 29 cases quality of care was not a concern, the HSJ reported.

Source: Times Online