Lawyers Call For End To Postcode Lottery As Report Highlights Hospital Death Rates

Dr Foster Report Says 12 Trusts Have Higher Than Expected Death Rates

03.12.2012

Leading medical lawyers have expressed concern over an apparent “postcode lottery” of hospital care after a new report identified 12 NHS trusts as having higher than expected death rates.

Experts at Irwin Mitchell are now calling on the Trusts to examine the data and improve their performance where necessary to ensure patient safety is at the top of their agenda after the independent Dr Foster report was published.

The report analyses NHS data and suggests that the death rates at 12 NHS Trusts across the UK were "worryingly high". The Trusts concerned had death rates higher than expected on two out of the four hospital mortality measures the report uses to compare hospital data.

David Body, Head of the Medical Negligence team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We are very worried at the findings in the latest Dr Foster report. For 12 hospital trusts to be identified as having higher than expected death rates is a cause for concern

“Patient safety must be the number one priority for the NHS and the Trusts highlighted must ensure they investigate what is causing their higher than expected death rates and improve treatment as soon as possible to avoid the postcode lottery that seems to exist.

“The NHS carries out a great service for our country and staff work tremendously hard to care for their patients. However, sadly we see firsthand that all too often there are problems with treatment and care which can lead to serious injury and in some cases unnecessary deaths of patients.”

Two of the 12 Trusts, as well as a third extra one, were also found to have a high standardised mortality ratio (HSMR) for the past three years – a sign according to Dr Foster that care should be investigated to find out what is happening.

HSMR measures deaths among patients in hospital across 56 different conditions which account for 80% of all deaths. The report suggests that a high ratio may mean ‘potential underlying problems’.

The 12 Trusts with death rates higher than expected (on any two of four standard measures) were:
Aintree University Hospital (Liverpool); Blackpool Teaching Hospitals; Buckinghamshire Healthcare; George Eliot hospital (Nuneaton); Hull and East Yorkshire hospitals; Medway (Kent); North Cumbria; Northern Lincolnshire and Goole hospitals; United Lincolnshire hospitals; University hospitals Birmingham; Walsall Healthcare; and Western Sussex Hospitals.

The following Trusts had high Standardised Mortality Ratios for the past three years:
Buckinghamshire Healthcare; George Eliot in Nuneaton; and Dudley Group.