Yorkshire hospital trust records some of highest mortality levels

Phil Morley, Chief Executive at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Phil Morley, Chief Executive at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
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A YORKSHIRE NHS trust has recorded some of the highest mortality rates in the country, according to a new report.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals was one of only two trusts in the country to record higher than expected levels of patient deaths across three of four separate measurements used by the Hospital Guide.

The research, carried out by health service analyst Dr Foster Intelligence, also found that patients were more likely to die if they were admitted to hospital over the weekend, with two other Yorkshire trusts recording some of the biggest disparities in death rates between emergency patients admitted on weekdays compared to weekends.

On overall mortality rates, the report flagged up a longer-term problem emerging at Hull despite protestations from the trust when similar results were reported last year.

It said: “Last year, Hull argued that its high in-hospital mortality rate was due to the fact that more patients remained in hospital to die than at other trusts.”

But the report added: “The SHMI (Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator) provides a useful reality check by comparing all deaths within a fixed time of treatment, whether or not they occurred in the hospital. Hull appears high on this measure also. Hull has now registered high mortality rates on a number of measures for two years running.”

Phil Morley, chief executive at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, responded: “In the year since I started in post as chief executive we have conducted a complete review of our mortality rating and sought the advice of national experts to help us understand our figures and we are confident that we provide a safe level of care for our patients.

“The Summary Hospital Mortality Index is one of a number of useful indicators for the trust, measuring in-hospital deaths as well as deaths after leaving hospital within 30 days. However, it is not able to provide a complete assessment of the quality and safety of care we provide. A key element of the SHMI, for example, is that it takes no account of care provided for dying patients (palliative care). Therefore hospitals which provide palliative care, as we do at the Queen’s Centre will inevitably have a higher SHMI value.”

York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust and North Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Foundation Trust were also among 19 trusts nationally that recorded higher than expected mortality rates on two of the four measurements.

At the other end of the scale, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – which was Dr Foster Trust of the Year for the northern region – recorded some of the lowest mortality rates nationally.

Meanwhile Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Health Care NHS Trust and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust recorded some of the biggest leaps in death rates for patients admitted for emergency treatment at the weekend compared to weekdays, with rises of 31 per cent and 19.7 per cent respectively.

Mark Andrews, medical director at Scarborough, said: “We are working with Dr Foster to understand why many of our patients are excluded from their data which adversely and artificially affects the figures reported.”

A spokeswoman for Doncaster pointed out patients admitted over a weekend may die days or weeks later which is difficult to attribute to a specific day of hospital admission.

Medical director Dr Robin Bolton said: “We need to establish whether this is a statistical quirk so we are carrying out a more detailed analysis.

“This indicator does not relate to patients who die at the weekend (unless they also happened to have been admitted at a weekend), but we are also examining our data to see if we can identify any factors that we can put right and that might adversely affect patient care according to day of the week.”

The Hospital Guide said hospitals with the fewest senior doctors on duty have the highest death rates. Around one in eight trusts had higher than expected death rates on Saturdays and Sundays.

Comment: Page 10.