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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Cumbria hospital death rates still among highest

Death rates remain higher than expected in north Cumbria’s hospitals – but bosses insist safety and care is improving.

The trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital, has the 10th highest mortality rate in the country, according to the latest Dr Foster Good Hospital Guide.

Last year’s guide, which sparked the Keogh Review into failing hospitals, revealed North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust had the fourth highest rate.

The trust is one of 16 across the country with higher than expected death rates among patients in hospital, according to this year’s report.

North Cumbria scored poorly on two of four main indicators relating to patient death, analysis shows. Indicators included a standard measure of in-hospital deaths, deaths within 30 days of a patient leaving hospital, deaths after surgery, and deaths among people with low-risk conditions who would normally survive.

Roger Taylor, Dr Foster director of research, said hospital level mortality indicators can provide vital insights into where problems are worst.

“They also help us to monitor the extent to which outcomes for patients are improving,” he added.

It comes after the NHS renewed its efforts to tackle avoidable mortality resulting in healthcare failures, following the Mid-Staffordshire inquiry.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUHT) said its fall from fourth to tenth in the latest rankings show reasonable progress.

It added that there has been some improvements to its Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio, which is used by Dr Foster.

And its standardised hospital mortality indicator, which covers 100 per cent of in-hospital deaths and those which happen in the community 30 days after discharge, has also improved.

The trust insisted that improvements are continually happening and its Keogh action plan, enforced following the major review, is monitored monthly and made public.

A trust spokeswoman said:“A safety panel meets weekly with the aim of eliminating harm from the hospitals and we are continuing to develop and refine our care systems to meet the needs of our patients.”

Some of the steps the trust said it has taken include assessing patients quicker and holding a major patient consultation to show how wards can improve further.

A new nursing structure is in place, there has been a rise in the number of serious incident being openly reported, and all high risk trauma and orthopaedic patients are now treated in Carlisle.

Meanwhile, a recruitment drive has been launched and a comprehensive review of estates and facilities has been carried out.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, interim medical director, said: “The improvements we are putting in place to ensure that we are providing the optimum levels of safe care is beginning to take effect.

“We are, however, on a long journey and we are continuing to meet our challenges head on to improve our care. Our patients deserve nothing less from us.”

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