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Concerns over high death warnings at more hospitals

Lawyers Leigh Day, who acted for 120 victims of abuse at the hospital, have reiterated the importance of investigating high death rates in preventing another Stafford.

13 February 2013

Fourteen hospital trusts are to be investigated for high death rates in the wake of the Francis report into the Stafford Hospital scandal. Lawyers Leigh Day, who acted for 120 victims of abuse at the hospital, have reiterated the importance of investigating high death rates in preventing another Stafford.

The high number of those dying at Stafford hospital should have served as an early indicator that something was wrong, but as the public inquiry led by Robert Francis QC pointed out, it was ignored for too long.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh will lead the investigations into the fourteen trusts, which are (click to see more information on the hospitals they cover):




Described as a ‘smoke alarm’ warning that something could be wrong within a hospital, death rates look at the number of people expected to die over a certain period, when taking into account the age and disease profile of the local population. If higher than expected, death rates could be a warning something is very wrong within a hospital or trust.

Emma Jones from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day, and who represented the victims at Stafford, said:

“The consistently poor mortality ratios coming out of Stafford hospital were an early warning sign that things were going wrong at that hospital; however, when these concerns were brought up with the Trust they were initially dismissed, or explained as ‘coding errors’”

"We are pleased that these investigations have been set up, but are concerned that they will confirm what we already know from our many clients: that the failings in basic care and safety at Stafford, discussed by the Francis reports, are in fact more widespread in the NHS and that a complete change of culture is needed.”

Leigh Day have confirmed that they are looking at over 60 new allegations of abuse arising from 16 hospitals which mostly fall outside of the 14 trusts currently being investigated.

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