Blackpool mortality rate falling but still high

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Hospital bosses in Blackpool today insisted significant improvements have been made despite a new report showing the resort still has an unusually high mortality rate.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was among 16 in the country found to have a mortality rate that was above average by the Dr Foster Hospital Guide, published today.

But the trust said the figures were up to 18 months old and further improvements since then have brought them in line with the rest of the country.

The annual report measures trusts’ performance according to the hospital standardised mortality ratio (HSMR) – which covers patients who die from conditions that are commonly fatal – and the summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI), which includes patients who die within 30 days of leaving the ward.

Dr Mark O’Donnell, the trust’s Medical Director, said: “We have implemented a number of initiatives, which have covered every area of the hospital, and this is now showing a sustainable improvement in our figures.

“While still recording ‘higher than expected’ mortality figures for HSMR, there has been year-on-year improvement in line with the Trust’s expectations.

“The recent Keogh review commended the trust on its honesty, openness and committed staff as well as acknowledging that we have been working to improve and invest in quality for some time.

“Patients treated at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals can be reassured the trust is totally committed to providing high quality, safe, patient-centred care.”

The SHMI figure included in today’s report shows the trust scoring 117 – against an average of 100 – which is down from 125 the previous year but still the highest in the country.

But the trust says the figure dates back to September 2012 and in the 12 months that followed the mortality rate has fallen to just 91.6.

Blackpool ranks among the most deprived areas in the UK and health bosses point to a long-standing problem with the resort’s mortality rate, which they have spent £1.5m to tackle.

Dr O’Donnell added: “We have developed a number of clinical pathways which focus particularly on the first 24-36 hours of patient care to standardise and improve the treatments they receive.

“The trust has initially concentrated on conditions that impact most on mortality and morbidity figures and we are seeing excellent results from this work.

“Our Better Care Now scheme is also giving excellent results. This scheme is at the core of what we do to ensure we set the highest standards to give our patients the best possible care.”

“We have been recording excellent results from these initiatives. This, in addition to a campaign which has seen us invest £1.5M to recruit 188 nurses and 45 doctors into the trust, which is now having a positive effect on our mortality figures.”