Hospital trusts to be investigated by Sir Bruce Keogh over their mortality rates have welcomed the forthcoming review.
The five trusts - Colchester Hospital University Trust, Tameside Hospital Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals - have been “outliers” on the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) for the two successive years to 2012.
Christine Green, chief executive of Tameside Hospital Trust, said she looked forward to receiving Sir Bruce’s team, adding it was “well recognised” that the trust’s SHMI had been elevated for the past two years.
Ms Green said: “In the same way as the hospital has addressed the Dr Foster reported Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR), it has committed to working with its partner organisations to similarly reduce the SHMI.
“This additional national focus from Sir Bruce Keogh is welcomed by the hospital as it provides for an even wider-reaching review of the many complex factors that influence the SHMI across the Tameside and Glossop health economy.
“The vast and sustained improvement achieved in our HSMR indicates that addressing the SHMI requires a multi-agency approach, including the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.
“Over recent years the hospital has undertaken an extensive quality improvement programme, which has seen significant quality gains across a wide range of other clinical indicators including hospital infections, falls, deep vein thrombosis screening and pressure ulcers.”
A spokeswoman for Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Trust said they were committed to improving mortality rates, with all hospital deaths reviewed to identify any lessons that can be learned.
The trust’s chief executive Clare Panniker said: “We will fully support the review by Sir Bruce Keogh and believe it can only further support our work in this area.
“A great deal of work has already taken place, and more is under way to achieve consistently high standards of care, including the introduction of a trust-wide quality and safety turnaround programme. This is looking at all areas of patient quality and safety, to ensure everyone who comes here receives high quality care and does not come to any harm.
“Clearly some of these changes, alongside improvements we are making to how we communicate and listen to staff, will take time. However, we are working hard and are committed to making Basildon Hospital worthy of the local community it serves.
“We are working closely with external stakeholders, including regulators, to achieve our aspirations.”
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals said clinicians had been trying to understand why the trust has had high SHMI and that they were working to put improvement plans in place.
Dr Mark O’Donnell, medical director of the trust, said: “We recently commissioned the Advancing Quality Alliance to carry out an independent review of our mortality rates which involved interviews with clinicians and managers and a detailed review of our mortality data and patient case notes.
“The report concluded there was no cause for clinical concern about patient care. However, we welcome any further assurance this latest review can give to our trust, patients and the public.
“In the past 12 months a significant amount of work has taken place across the trust including the setting up of a mortality board made up of clinicians to drive forward improvements.
“Since the commencement of this work our mortality rates have fallen considerably with our SHMI figures for July-September 2012 reported as 102.3 compared to 123.3 for the period July 2010 to June 2012, bringing our figures close to the national average.”
Mark Brearley, chief executive at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, said the trust took the findings “very seriously” and welcomed the independent review.
He said: “The trust has a mortality steering group that comprises of senior clinicians including the medical director and deputy medical director who is also the chair of the patient safety group who are looking at the indices very carefully and will use them to identify where we can focus efforts to improve clinical practice and care.
“We have met with the NHS Trust Development Agency (NHS TDA) as part of our assessment process for suitability to become a foundation trust.
“This robust process scrutinises and measures us against governance, quality and finance and they have now approved us to proceed to assessment by Monitor (regulator for NHS Foundation Trusts).”
Kathy McLean, NHS TDA medical director, said the trust “represents a remarkable turnaround” as it was struggling five years ago. However, she said the NHS TDA would continue to monitor its application to become a foundation trust and would withdraw their approval if mortality rates do not improve.
Dominic Harrison, director of public health at NHS Blackburn with Darwen (BwD), said: “We welcome any review of health care outcomes in the borough and will fully engage with partners in the health economy in this review. We know that BwD has some of the worst life expectancy in England and we are working very hard to address the causes of these poor health outcomes.”
In a joint statement, Colchester Hospital University Trust chief executive Dr Gordon Coutts and North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group’s clinical chief officer Dr Shane Gordon said: “We take all unexpected deaths very seriously and have been closely monitoring these figures over the past two years, with extensive analysis from the trust, commissioners and the National Emergency Care Team.
“The number of deaths at the trust’s hospitals (Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, Colchester) has been falling progressively year-on-year and are within the expected levels on other indicators.
“Our organisations are working together to understand the root causes that contribute to unexpected deaths. We have implemented a comprehensive set of improvements to patient care, including increased consultant cover in our hospitals, particularly in A&E and admitting wards.”
They said they were “encouraged” by improvements in the HSMR mortality indicator in the past 12 months but added that they would “continue our relentless focus on improving the quality of care and reducing unexpected deaths”.