Death rates review under way in Lincolnshire

Boston's Pilgrim Hospital, Lincoln County Hospital and Grantham Hospital Inspections are taking place this week in Grantham, Boston and Lincoln

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A review of standards of care at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is under way after higher than expected death rates.

The trust is one of 14 in England being scrutinised as part of a national inquiry in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Reviews are taking place at Grantham Hospital, Boston's Pilgrim Hospital and Lincoln County Hospital.

The inspection is being led by NHS regional chief nurse Ruth May.

She said: "We know there is something here we need to go and look at.

"We also need to help and advise on where the organisation can prioritise their work and where they can make improvements."

There have been 1,800 more deaths than expected in United Lincolnshire Hospitals in the past decade, according to the Dr Foster research unit.

Information 'under wraps'

When would a hospital be inspected?

Roger Taylor, from the analyst firm Dr Foster, said research was carried out on how likely it is an individual in hospital is going to die.

He said the chance of very old people with very serious illnesses coming out of hospital was low.

However, he said if the overall number of patients dying did not match the expected levels "warning bells" would start ringing.

Death rates are calculated by looking at the number of people that would be expected to die when taking into account the age and disease profile of the local population.

While not necessarily proof there is a problem they act as a "warning bell", according to the Dr Foster unit.

It was higher than expected death rates that first alerted inspectors to the failings at Stafford Hospital.

Jane Lewington, chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said it welcomed the inspection.

She said: "Over the recent months we've been reviewing our action plan around reducing our mortality rates.

"We are very keen to share that plan with the review team, to get their feedback."

Jan Hansen from campaign group Cure the NHS Lincolnshire hopes the review will reassure patients.

He said: "There are many people who have got high hopes that a lot of information that has been kept under wraps is actually going to be revealed to the public."

Two public meetings are also being held, one later, at the White Hart Hotel in Lincoln - the second at the White Hart in Boston on Tuesday.

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