09:30 Tuesday 12 February 2013

Death rates in spotlight


DEATH rates at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital are to be investigated by the NHS’s medical chief at the Prime Minister’s behest.

Sir Bruce Keogh’s probe will form part of an inquiry requested by David Cameron following publication of the Francis report into the Stafford Hospital scandal.

The NHS chief (pictured) has included Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in a list of 14 trusts which have seen abnormal death rates for two years.

Sir Bruce said: “The purpose of my investigation is to assure patients and myself that these hospitals understand the problem and have all the support they need to improve.

“This will be a thorough and rigorous process involving patients, clinicians, regulators and local organisations.

“These hospitals are already working with a range of regulators.

“If there were concerns that services were unsafe, the regulators should have intervened.

“The purpose of this investigation is to provide solutions that speed improvement.”

Queen’s governing trust and eight others will be scrutinised due to their performance according to a death rate measure called the hospital standardised mortality ratio (HSMR).

Sir Bruce has added them to five trusts he said he would examine because of their score on another measure, the summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI).

The timescale and terms of reference of the investigation will be announced shortly.

Dr Craig Stenhouse, Burton Hospitals’ medical director, said the trust welcomed the review and believed it was ‘of fundamental importance these issues are openly and thoroughly investigated’.

He said: “The trust has already identified areas where there may be a higher than expected mortality and has taken pro-active measures to review these services.”

The trust’s most recent SHMI score was 98.67, better than the standard of 100, but it continually monitored performance to ensure patients received the safest care.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said: “Nobody is suggesting the care at Queen’s is anything like the horrible occurrences we heard of at Stafford, but it’s absolutely right that if something in the mortality figures does not seem right that it’s rapidly and thoroughly investigated.”

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