Lincolnshire hospitals to be investigated over high death rates

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is one of nine hospital trusts to be investigated over its mortality rates.

The investigation, headed by Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh, follows on from the public inquiry into high numbers of “unnecessary” deaths at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008.

This initially led to five hospital trusts being investigated due to being outliers on the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) for the past two years.

However, this has now risen to nine trusts, and includes United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

In a statement, Sir Keogh said: “These hospitals are already working closely with a range of regulators.

“If there were concerns that services were unsafe the regulators should have intervened.

“The purpose of my investigation is to assure patients, public and Parliament that these hospitals understand why they have a high mortality and have all the support they need to improve.

“This will be a thorough and rigorous process, involving patients, clinicians, regulators and local organisations.”

The timeframe and references for the investigation will be announced shortly.

— Update on February 12: A statement from ULHT said: “We welcome the investigation into mortality indicators within our Trust and hope that it will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the progress that we have made on mortality thanks to the hard work of our staff.

“Our mortality figures have improved in the last year. Our SHMI continues to fall from a peak of 133 in quarter 3 2009/10.

“In the last available quarter (to June 2012), the Trust was no longer an outlier, with a quarterly SHMI of 106.28. Our HSMR figure has also shown recent improvement.

“Additionally, we have made significant improvements in all areas of patient safety, demonstrated by recent inspections carried out by the Care Quality Commission that have shown two minor concerns, compared to 14 major, moderate and minor concerns raised in 2011.

“There is still more work to do, and we are focussing on key improvements to bring our mortality ratios down even further, including the introduction of “a plan for every patient”, daily ward rounds by senior doctors and implementing care bundles.”

Other NHS Hospital Trusts on the list are:

  • North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Dudley Group NHS FT
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS FT
  • Medway NHS FT
  • Burton Hospitals NHS FT