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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Fall in death rates at north Cumbria's hospitals

Death rates at north Cumbria’s troubled hospitals have fallen by a third.

A new report shows the hospital standardised mortality ratio across Carlisle and Whitehaven dropped from 120 in 2010/11 to 80 in 2012/13.

It was the North Cumbria University Hospital Trust’s poor mortality ratio which triggered the Keogh review, placing the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital in special measures.

In a report to the trust board meeting this week, medical director Jeremy Rushmer said the new information showed death rates were “well within the expected range”.

He said it was “an extremely encouraging sign that significant improvements have been made across our hospital sites.” He added: “We will not compromise on patient safety and this should give confidence, to our patients and public, that the decisions made in the last year have clearly impacted positivity in our patient outcomes.”

In his report, Mr Rushmer said key changes have helped to reduce the mortality ratio. These include the start of patient safety panels and the controversial decision to transfer selected orthopaedic and surgical patients from the West Cumberland Hospital to the Cumberland Infirmary.

And he added: “I am determined to pursue reduction in harm and will not be satisfied until we have improved as much as we can.”

Just over a year ago the North Cumbrian 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.

As a result the trust was placed into special measures, meaning it must make major improvements and is under regular review.

Part of that focus is on death rates, of which there are two ways of measuring. As well as the HSMR, there is the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator.

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