'Cover Up' Over Hospitals' High Death Rates

The NHS Has Been Accused Of Covering Up Persistently High Death Rates At Welsh Hospitals

20.02.2014

The NHS in Wales has been accused of covering up high death rates at a number of large hospitals in the country.

Emails seen by the Daily Telegraph show that Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director at NHS England, called for an investigation into the crisis three months ago, but the details of the alleged cover up were not released to the press.

Jeremy Hunt, government secretary of state for health, said the failure to disclose problems at the hospitals was a "betrayal".

Mr Hunt added that the Labour controlled Welsh NHS was not learning the lessons of recent failings in England, including Mid Staffordshire and Colchester, which saw rapid investigations and resolutions of poor care.

The hospitals implicated in the scandal were University Hospital Wales in Cardiff, Royal Gwent in Newport, Princess of Wales in Bridgend, Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant and three community facilities.

A spokesperson for Royal Glamorgan Hospital said the institution has now significantly improved its mortality rates and was upbeat about future reports on its quality of care.

Chris Jones, Welsh NHS medical director, was reportedly told of the failings by Sir Bruce, but failed to respond to his emails and no investigation was ordered.

However, Mrs Clwyd, who is a Labour MP in Wales, commented: "The situation is deeply disturbing. I have been calling for an inquiry into death rates for some time because several of the figures are extremely worrying.

"People in Wales ought to be able to have as good care as anywhere else, but instead here are people dying on hospital waiting lists, and suffering appalling failings in care."

Recent figures published show that the University Hospital Wales had a mortality rate 28 per cent above the average figure for the nation.

A Welsh government spokesperson said that if legitimate concerns are ever raised about its hospitals it will start an inquiry, arguing Sir Bruce's email did not reach a specific conclusion about what could be causing the issue.

Expert Opinion
We are acting on behalf of a number of patients and families who were treated by Cardiff liver surgeon David Berry and were disappointed by the lack of communication from the Welsh Health Board about the number of people affected by his surgery. An investigation by the health board and authorities is ongoing which we hope will provide vital information to our clients about his practice.

“However, we are deeply concerned to learn that no investigation was ordered following a number of concerns being raised about high death rates across a number of large hospitals in Wales as complacency is only likely to jeopardise patient safety further which is totally unacceptable.

“The Mid-Staffs Public Inquiry and subsequent investigations into a number of other hospitals across England in recent months have highlighted the need for an open and transparent health service that learns from its mistakes and strives to continually improve the care it offers.

“The hospitals involved must be investigated thoroughly, as quickly as possible, to provide reassurance to patients that they are being given the best possible care and that senior members of staff are following a Duty of Candour to make hospitals safer for all.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner