Hospital bosses today pledged to get Blackpool’s worrying death rates under control – after a new study raised further concerns over the issue.
Research by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) studied the number of patient deaths over a two year period.
It found Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was one of six to have a “higher than expected” death rate.
This latest study covers the period from July 2011 to June 2013 and looked at deaths both in hospital and within 30 days of discharge.
It comes after Blackpool featured in other similar lists compiled by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and analysts Dr Foster, which also warned of high death rates, in 2013.
Blackpool was also investigated by NHS medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh last year over the same issue.
But trust chiefs today said the measure used in the new study – which compares the number of deaths to what is expected based on average numbers for England – can be misleading.
Dr Mark O’Donnell, trust medical director, said: “The Summary Hospital Mortality Indicator (SHMI) is just one of a range of indicators available to help us assess the quality of our services and should not be viewed in isolation.
“SHMI data is affected by a number of factors including age, place of death, deprivation and the data collection systems from patient records.
“A higher than average number of ‘expected deaths’ should not be interpreted as the number of ‘avoidable deaths’.
“During the past 12 months our SHMI and Risk Adjusted Mortality Index figures have fallen significantly and we confidently expect the data to be within the expected range by April.
“Given the actions under way we project a figure by the end of April 2014 that would be within the expected range for this trust.’’
The latest figures show Blackpool’s mortality rate is currently 15 per cent higher than expected, down from 25 per cent two years ago.
Since then the trust has invested £1.5m recruiting more than 200 doctors and nurses, as well as putting new measures in place to improve patient care.