Skip to content
Please donate

Hospitals await report on 'needless' deaths

Published on 16 July 2013 10:30 AM

Hospitals are bracing themselves for tough criticism as a major report is set to highlight thousands of needless deaths in recent years.


Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England medical director, is expected to describe poor care, medical errors and management blunders at 14 trusts investigated over high mortality rates.

He will point to 13,000 needless deaths across the trusts since 2005, suggesting that the Stafford hospital scandal was not a one-off.

The investigation follows a report of the public inquiry into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where Robert Francis was asked by the Government to look into the role that commissioning, supervisory and regulatory bodies played in monitoring the work at the hospital.

In the latest report, Sir Bruce analysed the 14 other trusts due to concerns over their high mortality rates, 9 of which have been 'outliers' on the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) for 2 years running while the other 5 were identified by the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) as having higher than expected death rates.

The following were all reviewed:

  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

'Higher than expected' death rates

Researchers said that death rates were deemed to be 'higher than expected' at 8 of the trusts and 'as expected' at the other 6 of the trusts.

Meanwhile, the latest SHMI data suggest that as many as 3,000 people may have died needlessly in just one year at the 14 trusts.

The report comes as the Prime Minister's official spokesman indicated that hospital board members could be suspended following care failings in the future.

Ministers claim that if a hospital is deemed to be failing, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals could initiate a failure regime in which the board could be suspended or the hospital put into administration.

The importance of listening to staff, patients and families

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, commented, 'Today's report will be deeply concerning for many older people and they will want to know that a robust plan is in place to address any ongoing problems identified in those hospitals.

'It is also vital that the NHS and healthcare regulators learn from this report, are constantly alert to signs of possible poor performance, and are prepared to intervene immediately if it occurs. This includes reaching out and listening to staff, patients and families who are the first to know when standards are slipping.  

'However, we are only too aware that many of the issues raised are not unique. Time and again we hear from older people and their families who have received poor treatment and care.

'More than 65% of people in hospital at any one time are over the age of 65, yet services are often ill equipped to meet their needs. The only way to make sure all older people get the standard of care they deserve is to urgently overhaul services to meet the needs of our ageing population.'

Copyright Press Association 2013

Share this page

Last updated: Dec 05 2018

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top