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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Death rates at north Cumbria hospitals improving

Death rates at north Cumbria’s struggling hospitals are starting to improve.

Ann Farrar photo
Ann Farrar

Chief executive Ann Farrar said mortality at the West Cumberland Hospital, in Whitehaven and Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary was now far closer to the national average.

This time last year North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust was named as one a handful being investigated by the Government due to worrying death rates.

The Keogh inspection team carried out unannounced visits at both of the hospitals, which flagged up serious concerns about care. As a result the trust was placed into special measures, meaning it must make major changes and is under regular review.

But Mrs Farrar said that although there was still a lot of work to do to get the trust the all-clear, there had been significant progress.

A figure of 100 is used to indicate the expected number of deaths within a trust. The north Cumbrian trust, which at its worst point had a score of 118, has now seen mortality fall to a figure of 103. She described the newly-published statistics as “refreshing”.

“It is well in the pack and clearly a lot closer to the 100. We now need to keep going towards that,” she added.

There has also been progress in another key area – hospital infections.

Superbug clostridium difficile and its link to deaths within was a major concern for inspectors.

But latest figures show that cases are dropping.

Mrs Farrar said: “It is not just better than our target, we are now better than the national average.”

In total there have been 19 cases of C dif this year, against a maximum target of 29.

In Whitehaven it is six months since they had a case, while Carlisle is also below the national average.

Bosses stress that every case they have is fully investigated to see if it could have been prevented.

This is just one area the trust has been working to improve as part of efforts to get out of special measures.

Others include strengthening leadership within the trust, increasing the reporting of patient safety incidents and demonstrating action has been taken, tackling complaints openly and improving financial performance.

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