Hospital's 'higher' death rate is to be investigated

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By Walsall Advertiser | Thursday, June 28, 2012, 09:20

MORTALITY rates at Walsall Manor Hospital are to be investigated after the borough's health bosses gave the go-ahead for an independent report to be carried out.

The report, commissioned by Walsall Council's health scrutiny panel at a meeting last Thursday night (June 21), will see an analysis of mortality rates at the Manor – which has a "significantly higher" number of deaths compared to other hospitals – and the work being done by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust to address it.

In addition, it will also consider the impact of health inequalities within the borough, as well as the provision of community-based support services.

The panel will also visit the hospital to talk to consultants to gain a greater insight into the issues affecting the figures.

Speaking at last Thursday's meeting, Richard Kirby, chief executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the Manor, said that the hospital monitors mortality rates through three measures.

They include the Standardised Hospital Mortality Rate (SHMR), produced quarterly by the Department of Health, which includes deaths in hospital and within 30 days of discharge, the Hospital Standardised Mortality Rate (HSMR), produced monthly and which covers deaths in hospital together with the numbers of deaths and the crude mortality rate.

But, Mr Kirby said, despite Walsall having higher than average rates for serious respiratory conditions and a greater reliance on the Manor to provide end-of-life care than in other parts of the country, mortality rates have shown signs of falling.

Mr Kirby said: "March figures fell to 95 and while we do not want to appear complacent, the figures have been falling steadily for some time."

But Councillor Marco Longhi, chairman of the council's health scrutiny panel, expressed an air of caution following a sustained period of time where the Manor reported an increased number of deaths than comparable hospitals.

"We need to be very, very conscious about that because figures reported today can be revised for the better or worse in future," he said.

"I would like to ask for a report from the local authority that will be a public document, circulated to stakeholders, all councillors and other partners. This is because of the sustained period of time during which mortality rates are well above average and one of the roles of this committee is to provide reassurance to Walsall people."

The views of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which manages the contract for the hospital, will also be sought as part of the report.

Salma Ali, interim senior responsible officer for Walsall CCG, agreed to work with the council and told the panel that the group had "got a grip" on what was happening at the Manor.

A time-scale for the completion of the report will be agreed at the panel's next meeting on July 24.



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