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Hundreds more hospital patients dying than expected

By Richard Guttridge | Health | Published:

Hundreds more patients than expected are dying at our hospitals, new figures from the NHS reveal.

Hundreds more patients than expected are dying at our hospitals, new figures from the NHS reveal.

There were 440 more deaths than expected at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital in a year, leaving the trust that runs it with the third highest ratio of deaths compared to numbers predicted by NHS chiefs in the country.

Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital is also towards the wrong end of the list, with 295 more deaths than expected between March 2018 and February 2019.

At Walsall Manor Hospital there were 140 more deaths than expected, 110 more in Sandwell, while at the trust which runs Stafford Hospital there were 85 more.

It continues a trend at New Cross, where hundreds died unexpectedly for the second year running. The figure was 475 in 2017.

The figures are created using statistical analysis of the number of deaths each hospital should expect taking into account admission numbers and the ‘characteristics’ of patients treated there.

There were 2,730 deaths at New Cross in 2018/19 compared to the expected figure of 2,290.

County Hospital in Stafford

Only at East Sussex and Tameside and Glossop trusts were there bigger gaps between actual and expected deaths.

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At Russells Hall, which has been beset by problems including A&E failures, 2,405 people died, above the predicted figure of 2,110.

There were 1,505 deaths at Walsall Manor. The expected number was 1,365.

At Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs both Sandwell General and Birmingham’s City Hospital, 2,065 patients died compared to the predicted 1,955.

University Hospitals of North Midlands runs Stafford and Royal Stoke hospitals. There were 4,460 deaths across the trust, above the expected figure of 4,375.

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UHNM said mortality rates had since improved and were now below the expected figure.

How did your hospital explain the deaths?

Hospitals today moved to reassure patients after figures showed death rates were higher than expected.

The figures, published by NHS Digital, were introduced in the wake of the Mid-Staffordshire hospital crisis, which resulted in a hospital trust being dissolved.

They show hundreds more patients than expected are dying.

The research used statistical analysis of the number of deaths each hospital should expect taking into account admission numbers and the ‘characteristics’ of patients treated there.

There were 440 more deaths than expected at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital over a year, leaving the trust that runs it with the third highest ratio of deaths compared to numbers predicted by NHS chiefs in the country.

Dr Jonathan Odum, medical director at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “I would like to reassure our patients and their families that the trust does everything in its power to ensure patients are safe and well cared for while in our care.

“The best guidance on mortality statistics such as the SHMI tells us that they should be used as a ‘smoke alarm’ to investigate hospital deaths and the overall quality of care. Our most recent SHMI figures are showing an improvement but there is still more work to be done. The increased figures are partly down to fewer patients being admitted to hospital and a high number of people admitted from care homes with end-of-life care needs.”

Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital saw 295 more deaths than expected between March 2018 and February 2019.

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Trust, said: “Mortality data collection is not designed or intended to identify unnecessary or avoidable deaths nor does it measure quality and safety.

"They flag that something might need further investigation. The figures also include deaths within 30 days of discharge which for Dudley Group is around 30 per cent, largely end of life patients where sadly death was expected.

Dudley NHS Trust chief executive Diane Wake

“We also saw a spike in alcohol liver related deaths among patients who had not been receiving treatment. Our SHMI figures continue to fall. We are confident this trend is continuing through the ongoing focus on quality improvement.”

At Walsall Manor Hospital there were 150 more deaths than expected.

Matthew Lewis, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust medical director, said: “The trust takes its responsibilities to care for, and protect, its patients very seriously; every month I review various measures of mortality with senior doctors and managers.

“Any sign that we are falling short of national standards will prompt a detailed assessment and action plan.”

At Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs both Sandwell General and Birmingham’s City Hospital, 2,065 patients died compared to the predicted 1,955.

Sandwell trust chief executive Toby Lewis said: “The trust, led by the board, has focused for the last year on reducing avoidable mortality.

“Our mortality figure is now within the expected range for our trust, and continues to improve.

“Our focus remains on this important subject as part of our quality plan.”

University Hospitals of North Midlands runs Stafford and Royal Stoke hospitals. There were 4,460 deaths across the trust, above the expected figure of 4,375.

John Oxtoby, UHNM medical director, said there had been a big improvement, adding: “UHNM has a strong focus on reviewing cases of patients who die in hospital to ensure we provide the very best care for patients going forward.

“All our mortality rates are currently within the normal range and are currently reducing with an improving trend over the last year.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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