13,000 'needless' NHS hospital deaths exposed in killer report

Keogh Report will show that Stafford scandal was not a one-off; Jeremy Hunt to take emergency action

LAST UPDATED AT 14:56 ON Mon 15 Jul 2013

THE NHS is under fire once again. A high-profile report, to be published tomorrow, will claim there have been 13,000 needless deaths at the 14 worst hospital trusts in England since 2005.
 
The Keogh Mortality Review by NHS's medical director, Bruce Keogh, will "spell out the failings" of the 14 trusts. As the Sunday Telegraph reports, Keogh "will describe how each hospital let its patients down badly through poor care, medical errors and failures of management, and will show that the scandal of Stafford Hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly, was not a one-off".
 
Why was the report commissioned? David Cameron announced that he had asked Keogh to review the NHS trusts that were "persistent outliers on mortality indicators" in February, following the scandal at Stafford Hospital and a report detailing lapses in care and regulation. The 14 trusts under investigation were chosen on account of their unusually high mortality rates.
 
What are the findings of the review? The most shocking statistic is that there have been around 13,000 "excess deaths" since 2005. The Telegraph reports that the 14 trusts have paid out £234m in negligence settlements in the past three years, while the Daily Mail claims the review "will also highlight a culture in which warnings of dangerous practice were routinely ignored or buried".
 
Which hospitals are involved? The 14 hospital trusts are: Basildon and Thurrock in Essex; United Lincolnshire; Blackpool; The Dudley Group, West Midlands; George Eliot, Warwickshire; Northern Lincolnshire and Goole; Tameside, Greater Manchester; Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Colchester, Essex; Medway, Kent; Burton, Staffordshire; North Cumbria; East Lancashire; and Buckinghamshire Healthcare.
 
Which hospital comes out worst? United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust performed worst last year. There were 424 "excess deaths" at its hospitals in 2012. But the Telegraph claims that over the full seven-year period, the worst-performing body was Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which had 1,600 more deaths than would have been expected. That represents a higher death toll than that at Stafford.
 
What will happen? The Daily Mail claims that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will place at least ten of the 21 hospitals involved on "special measures". It claims that NHS "troubleshooters" will be "parachuted in" to take over the running of the hospitals. "Casualty, maternity, geriatric and other units could be shut down as ministers order drastic action to prevent further unnecessary deaths," claims the paper.
 
What are the political implications? The report will bring pressure on Labour, who were in power for most the period under review, says the Telegraph. David Morris, a Conservative member of the Commons health select committee, said that Andy Burnham, Health Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010, and since then Labour’s health spokesman, and his predecessors had “missed far too many warnings” about high hospital death rates. Morris said Burnham “should take a long hard look at his record and ask himself whether he is really fit for the role of shadow health secretary”. Burnham insisted that he would defend himself. "I will account for all of the things I did as secretary of state," he told Sky News. · 

Disqus - noscript

Stafford hospital was obviously failing and so are a few others but I am certain that all this bad publicity is a devious way of swaying the people into thinking that the NHS put into the hands of privatisation would work better. Do not believe it. This corrupt and vile government want the NHS for their Tory friends and donors and this is a ploy to get at least some of the people on their side, a way of brainwashing those most vulnerable people on their side. Think first at how many hospitals are well run, have caring, well trained staff. 13,000 deaths is not such a high number in a year, especially if the majority of those numbers are elderly. We must also see how many lives were saved and how many hospitals are well run to make comparisons. They do the same with the unemployed, making them out to be skivers and lay a bouts, they try to cover up the fact that they cannot provide jobs for them. Do not let this government fool you into thinking the NHS is failing, if there are problems let them be addressed, it was a Tory that has introduced the reforms in the NHS, Andrew Lansley.

This article is incorrect. The report did not expose 13000 or any other number of needless deaths. Not a single expert claims the difference between actual and 'expected' HSMRs can be interpreted as indicating the number of deaths that were needless. Please remove this article.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.