latest health care news

03.12.12

Dr Foster report highlights high death rates

Death rates at 12 NHS hospital trusts in England are alarmingly high, a new report by health analysis firm Dr Foster shows.

Many hospitals are also “full to bursting”, with many regularly breaching the 85% limit. In 2011-12, occupancy was at 88% midweek, figures showed. Five trusts had worryingly high Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) at the weekend, which could be down to fewer senior clinicians working at that time.

Three trusts have had a consistently high HSMR for the past three years. The other three measures used to rate hospitals are the Summary Hospital Level Mortality Indicator (SHMI), deaths after surgery and deaths in low-risk conditions.

The report states: “These measures are to be used as a warning sign that poor-quality care may be leading to a higher-than-expected mortality. With the rising demand for care and falling revenues, there are concerns that trusts will focus more (or exclusively) on cost of care rather than quality of care.

“Because of this, there is a fear that there could be another Mid Staffs. Hospital managers must ensure that they do not sacrifice one for the other.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “NHS mortality rates are low, but we want them to be the lowest in Europe. This data can help the NHS to spot and act on poor care more quickly. We expect all hospitals to examine this data carefully and take action wherever services need to improve.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN, called the report “highly credible” and said it revealed a health care system “under great strain”.

“What we are seeing is a health service which is becoming increasingly fragmented, where acute care staff are being cut without the right systems in place to treat patients elsewhere. A new approach is needed to ensure patients who don’t need hospital care are treated properly in the community.”

Mike Farrar, NHS Confederation chief executive, called for swift action to change the way services are delivered and agreed that improved community and primary care was necessary to ensure better care for patients.

Dr Andrew Goddard, director of the Royal College of Physicians’ Medical Workforce Unit, said: “The staggeringly high bed occupancy rates show that hospitals are at bursting point. This prevents hospitals from being able to deliver non-urgent care – such as hip replacements – and puts staff under increasing pressure as they are constantly fire fighting.

‘The report’s findings are not new. It tells us important information about the quality of hospital care. The medical profession now must carefully consider these findings and decide how to improve hospital services to better meet the needs of patients.”

The report is at: http://drfosterintelligence.co.uk/thought-leadership/hospital-guide/

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