A NORTH hospital trust is among nine to be investigated over higher than expected mortality rates, it was announced last night.
The NHS Commissioning Board said North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of nine trusts that have been “outliers” on the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) for two years running.
The trust, which will be investigated by the board’s medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, is currently in the process of being taken over by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Last night, representatives from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said they had raised concerns for some years. Glenn Turp, RCN Northern regional director said: “Over a number of years, the Royal College of Nursing Northern Region repeatedly raised concerns about the quality of the patient experience, the management, the structures, staffing levels and skills mix, as well as the impact of inadequate funding for the trust.
“Unfortunately, the previous management at the trust appeared unwilling to take action based on our concerns, which were shared and jointly articulated by all of the health trade unions and professional bodies at the trust.
“We therefore also raised our concerns with the North West Strategic Health Authority, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and the Care Quality Commission.”
The mortality ratios at the nine trusts were “persistently high” between July 2010 and June 2012, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The HSMR compares the number of patients who die following admission to hospital with the number who would be expected to die.
It suggests that 3,063 more people died than expected at the nine trusts over the two-year period. Last night North Cumbria, which runs hospitals in Cumbria and Whitehaven, said it would focus on providing an outstanding service in the future.
Ann Farrar, interim chief executive, said: “We welcome this afternoon’s announcement by Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS Medical Director, to appoint a Rapid Response Review Team to assure patients that the hospitals with higher than expected mortality rates understand the problem and have the right support to improve.
“We look forward to working with the Rapid Response Review Team to ensure that we are on the right track and moving at the right pace.
“Providing high quality, compassionate and person-centred healthcare is our number one priority.
“Our focus for the future is to deliver this day in, day out.
“Our aim is to be the best and provide an outstanding service for the people we serve in North Cumbria.
“We have taken an open and transparent approach following concerns relating to our higher than expected mortality rate and put in place a comprehensive improvement plan to reduce this. This will take time.”