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Bucks hospitals to be investigated over death rates
HOSPITALS in Buckinghamshire are to be investigated over their patient deaths rates, say health officials.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust is one of nine trusts which have been ‘outliers’ on the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) for two years running.
Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS Commissioning Board, said: “The purpose of my investigation is to assure patients, public and Parliament that these hospitals understand why they have a high mortality and have all the support they need to improve…
“These hospitals are already working closely with a range of regulators. If there were concerns that services were unsafe the regulators should have intervened.”
Last week Sir Bruce announced probes into five trusts which were identified by a different measure, the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI), as having higher than expected mortality rates.
This followed the publication of the Francis Report, which highlighted the "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of patients" at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009.
Years of abuse and neglect at the hospital led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients, and inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC said the failings went right to the top of the health service.
He made 290 recommendations, saying "fundamental change" was needed to prevent the public losing confidence.
Mr Francis said the Trust’s board did not listen sufficiently to its patients and staff or ensure the correction of deficiencies brought to their attention, adding: “Above all, it failed to tackle an insidious negative culture involving a tolerance of poor standards and a disengagement from managerial and leadership responsibilities.
“This failure was in part the consequence of allowing a focus on reaching national access targets, achieving financial balance and seeking foundation trust status to be at the cost of delivering acceptable standards of care.”
He said checks and balances within the NHS should have prevented a serious systemic failure of this sort, but the problems were not detected by scrutiny groups, commissioners, regulators and professional bodies.
Concerns about Mid-Staffordshire had initially been raised by the authors of the Doctor Foster Hospital Guide, which publishes the HSMR figures.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare says action plans have been put in place to understand its high HSMR, and it has seen an improvement year-on-year as a result.
Lynne Swiatczak, Chief Nurse and Director of Patient Care Standards, said: “Our regular detailed reviews of patient case notes and mortality data has not identified any areas of concern with patient care, but our task force and Trust Board continues to look in-depth at this issue.
“As a provider of a wide range of services including acute care, five community hospitals, and a hospice, we have also been working with independent experts to understand how this may impact on our HSMR.
“We welcome the approach being taken by Sir Bruce’s review, in particular the additional support and assurance it will provide to, and build upon, our own work. We will ensure this review is given our full support.”