Fourteen hospital trusts are to be investigated for higher than expected mortality rates

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 12 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f960
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1BMJ

Nine more hospital trusts have been added to the list of those to be investigated by the NHS’s medical director, Bruce Keogh, in the wake of the public inquiry by Robert Francis QC into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Among Francis’s conclusions was that system failures could mean another Mid Staffs scandal happening again. The prime minister responded to this part of the report by asking Keogh to review all hospitals with high mortality rates.1 Francis found that high mortality was an early warning at Mid Staffs that ought to have been taken more seriously than it was.2

Keogh initially announced that five trusts would be investigated. These were Colchester, Tameside, Blackpool, Basildon and Thurrock, and East Lancashire, which have had significantly higher mortality ratios than the England average over two successive years, as measured by the Department of Health’s own measure, the summary hospital level mortality indicator.3

A further nine hospital trusts that have been outliers for two years on the hospital standardised mortality ratio have been added to the list: North Cumbria, United Lincolnshire, George Eliot, Buckinghamshire, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole, Dudley, Sherwood Forest, Medway, and Burton.

It has been estimated that across the 14 hospitals around 6000 more patients died than expected, with mortality rates 20% higher.

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, the 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 timescale and terms of reference for this investigation will be announced shortly, the NHS Commissioning Board has said.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f960