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Mortality rates should act as a warning sign

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The Telegraph has reported 14 NHS Trusts are under investigation due to mortality rates. 

It was found that nine of the Trusts which were investigated have been labelled as ‘outliers’ on the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio for two years running and the remaining five Trusts were identified by the Summary Hospital Level Mortality Indicator as having higher than expected death rates.

The figures which have been compiled by the Health and Social Care Information Centre compared the number of hospital patients who died following admission to hospital with the number who would be expected to die.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director said the data should be a ‘warning light’ to Trusts which should prompt them to investigate and resolve any potential care quality issues.

But he added: “A higher than expected mortality rate does not in itself tell us that a hospital is unsafe - for example, units delivering highly complex and specialist care could legitimately have higher mortality rates.”

The reliance of mortality data has recently been widely debated following the temporary suspension of children’s heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary due to concerns over high mortality rates. The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is not one of the 14 Trusts identified in the investigation.

NHS England has confirmed the 14 Trusts are under investigation and will be visited soon by a team of experts.

By Sarah Fairclough