North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals death rate 'higher than expected'

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust sign
Image caption The trust said non-admitted patients skewed the inpatient mortality figures

More people than expected have died at a Teesside hospital trust, latest figures show.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is one of nine in England found to have higher than predicted mortality rates last year.

The figures include deaths in hospital, or within 30 days of discharge.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust medical director, Dr David Emerton, said it was "reviewing the care of all patients who die".

Dr Emerton said the figures - higher than expected for the second year running - were skewed by the number of patients treated without being admitted to hospital.

Some patients, such as those in care homes nearing the end of their lives, where sent to hospital "when not much really can be done", he said.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), who compiled the data, says the categorisation does not mean a hospital is failing or unsafe and does not take levels of social deprivation into account.

Its figures should "instead should be viewed as a 'smoke alarm' which requires further investigation by the trust", a spokeswoman said.

Nine trusts with higher than expected Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI)

  • Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (same category since January 2011)
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (same category since April 2010)
  • City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust (same category the previous year)
  • Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
  • South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The SHMI is available from April 2010 and the latest data covers July 2013 to June 2014.

The expected risk of the patient dying in hospital, or within 30 days of discharge, is estimated based on the patient's condition, age, sex and how they were admitted to hospital.

Dr Mike Smith, from the Patients Association, said the figures should be viewed in the context of the area's poverty and unemployment rate.

"If people have, locally, a high mortality and morbidity rate, that means to say people are dying more than the rest of the nation and/or are sicker than the rest of the nation, then you mustn't necessarily think it's the hospital's fault," he said.

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