Figures show death rate higher than expected in northern Lincolnshire's hospitals
NHS bosses are reassuring patients that work to reduce high death rates across the area's hospital trust is ongoing and recent figures suggesting otherwise are old.
Today we can reveal that the latest statistics available from the Department Of Health show that 332 more deaths than expected occurred between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012, within Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG).
A Summary Hospital Level Mortality Indicator (SHMI), which is used to calculate the number of expected deaths, predicted there would be 1,934 deaths during this time – the actual number was 2,266.
But officials at the trust, which manages hospitals in Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole, say this is not a clear representation of their current state as SHMI's information is at least six to 18 months old.
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They claim improvements are already being made to lift NLAG's standards.
As reported, the first phase of a Transforming Health Ltd review was undertaken last month which highlighted the trust had one of the highest mortality rates in the UK.
Former NHS chief executive officer and director of the national Patients Safety First Campaign Stephen Ramsden led the review, which made 40 recommendations to try to tackle the issue, some of which have already been implemented.
Karen Jackson, chief executive at NLAG, said: "We implemented an intensive mortality rate improvement programme earlier this year and many of the tasks in our action plan have already been completed.
"The impact of this activity will not necessarily be reflected in the SHMI figures for some time due to the indicator's retrospective nature.
"However, we continue to monitor our progress rigorously and, I along with the trust board, am fully confident the SHMI figures will improve."
Staff use an internal indicator, Risk Adjusted Mortality Index (RAMI), which records monthly how an individual hospital is performing when it comes to death rates.
And Ms Jackson says this indicator shows they are improving within all their hospitals and believes it is down to three factors.
She said: "We put actions and plans into place before the Transforming Health Ltd review was carried out but together with the 40 recommendations it came up with we are seeing changes for the better being made.
"Constant discussions with our medical staff helps to identify what action we can take to improve certain areas but also what we can adopt in our hospitals from what they have seen happening in other trusts across the country.
"Key areas which we have so far improved on include our care for stroke patients and services within our cardiology unit.
"What statistics do not demonstrate is the dedication from staff at all levels to the provision of safe, high-quality care to patients in all of our hospitals.
"We are heading in the right direction for change, but we know there is a lot to be done. We have been open about this and accept the recommendations made in the review to help us.
"Our aim is to constantly be improving."