A TASK group has been set up at a North East hospital after death rates were found to be higher than expected.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead has put together the group after the Dr Foster Good Hospital Guide revealed a worrying death record there.
Senior clinicians and others are now working with chief executive Ian Renwick to review arrangements and carry out any changes needed as a result.
The board of directors at the hospital has been told that staff are also currently undertaking a review of the trust’s out-of-hours staffing arrangements as well as implementing a new process for the review of deaths across the organisation.
Under the standard mortality calculations used by the health watchdog, the Queen Elizabeth recorded 1,012 deaths against an expected value of 909.
Trust officials have said that, despite setting up the review bodies, they believe that if they had reported just seven fewer deaths in the reporting period they would not have been flagged up as a concern.
Blaydon MP Dave Anderson was among those saying the figures are alarming.
He said: “While I am concerned by the report, I am happy that the hospital is taking this report seriously – although they have some issues around the methodology of how statistics are collected.
“I have been contacted by the chief executive of the hospital and I will continue to closely monitor their work and response to this report.”
Gateshead MP Ian Mearns was also among those contacted by the trust in advance of the controversial report findings. He said: “In all honestly I’d be more alarmed if they were not setting up this panel.
“Gateshead has historically been at the top of the worst league tables, but we have been tackling that of late and things are much better here, even with the health conditions that exist in an area with an economic background like ours.
“We have to be wary about complacency and slipping back down league tables, but I think we can see here that they are taking the appropriate action.”
Dr David Beaumont, medical director at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very concerned at the information presented in the Dr Foster guide which suggests that the trust has marginally higher than expected mortality rates.
“This is especially the case as other measures used by the NHS to judge mortality rates indicate the trust as being within expected ranges.
“Any unexpected death is taken extremely seriously. We have an established mortality and morbidity steering group, which I chair personally. This group reviews all unexpected deaths which occur in the hospital.”
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