Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Health Bosses Hit Back at Death Rates; Hospital Leaders Play Down Concerns on Patients' Higher Chance of Dying after Surgery

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Health Bosses Hit Back at Death Rates; Hospital Leaders Play Down Concerns on Patients' Higher Chance of Dying after Surgery

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

HIGH death rates have been exposed at several leading North East hospitals, a claim fiercely denied by health bosses last night.

The region's leading hospital bosses have played down concerns that patients treated by them have a higher chance of dying after surgery and questioned the research behind the claims.

The annual Dr Foster Hospital Guide said Newcastle Hospitals had a high number of patients dying following surgery, with 137 in the last year.

City Hospitals Sunderland was found to have higher than expected hospital standardised mortality rates (HSMRs), with 114 deaths - the national average is 100. And County Durham and Darlington had a higher than expected mortality rate for life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, heart failure and broken hips, with a total of 113 deaths.

Monitoring body Dr Foster said the information should act as a warning sign of potential problems in the quality of care. But last night hospital bosses criticised the controversial report as being inaccurate, misleading and lacking validity.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The figures are simply not consistent with the known excellent outcomes here in Newcastle. Three independent external organisations have undertaken a rapid review of what we understand the methodology to be and have raised a number of issues as to the findings arrived at by Dr Foster."

A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: "The Dr Foster Hospital Guide has identified that care provided by City Hospitals Sunderland is generally of a high standard in the mortality and patient safety areas that have been investigated."

The trust said research undertaken by another company, CHKS, which calculated its mortality rate as below average at 98 for the last year. …

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