A REVIEW of 14 hospital trusts in England with high mortality rates has revealed a “pattern” of failure to provide adequate patient care.
The trusts were investigated by a review team led by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh at the request of the prime minister in response to the findings of the Francis report into serious failings at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital. Sir Bruce was asked to conduct a series of “deep-dive” reviews into other hospitals with consistently high mortality rates over two years or more.
Inspections were both planned and unannounced and placed particular weight on the views of staff and patients. The review team identified problems across many of the hospitals including professional and geographic isolation, failure to act on data or information that showed cause for concern, the absence of a culture of openness, a lack of willingness to learn from mistakes and ineffectual governance and assurance processes. In many cases Trust Boards were unaware of problems discovered by the review teams.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said: “Higher mortality rates do not always point to deaths which could have been avoided but they do act as a ‘smoke alarm’ indicator that there could be issues with the quality of care.
“Not one of these trusts has been given a clean bill of health by my review teams. These reviews have been highly rigorous and uncovered previously undisclosed problems. I felt it was crucial to provide a clear diagnosis, to write the prescription, and, most importantly, to identify what help these organisations might need to support their recovery or accelerate improvement.
“Mediocrity is simply not good enough and, based on the findings from this review I have set out an achievable ambition which will help these hospitals improve dramatically over the next two years.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that all 14 Trusts investigated will have to undertake strict improvement plans and 11 will be placed into “special measures” to ensure that Sir Bruce’s recommendations are fully implemented and patient care improves.
Commenting on the findings, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: “The report also underlines that we have moved into a much more transparent age when data and information about the quality of care will be in the public domain. The challenge for all of us is to embrace this new world and work hard to analyse and better understand what it means.”