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Damning report into death rates at Medway Maritime Hospital to be published

The trust runs the Medway Maritime Hospital, Gillingham
The trust runs the Medway Maritime Hospital, Gillingham

Kent hospital bosses are today braced for the publication of a damning report into death rates.

More than 200 patients are said to have died unnecessarily at Medway Maritime Hospital last year.

Medical chiefs at the Gillingham hospital have already seen a draft report - which is due to be published in full this lunchtime.

The review of patient safety is set to reveal that up to 3,400 patients died needlessly in the past year at 21 hospitals across the country run by the 14 NHS trusts.

The investigation was announced in February in the wake of the scandal at Stafford Hospital where 1,200 patients died unnecessarily.

It is being led by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

According to an initial report from the Keogh Mortality Review, the number of "excess deaths" at Medway Maritime for general medicine was 232, "significantly higher than expected".

All other types of treatment measured had below-average death rates or were within the expected range.

There are two overall indicators used to measure needless deaths, with anything more than 100 higher than expected. One puts the overall rating for Medway last year at 109, while the other is 113.

An initial assessment of the hospital said: "These two measures are being used as a 'smoke alarm' for identifying potential quality problems which warrant further review.

"No judgement about the actual quality of care being provided to patients is being made at this stage, or should be reached by looking at these measures in isolation."

As well as death rates, safety, patient experience, leadership and effectiveness of treatment are being investigated.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to speak about the report in Parliament today and could call for drastic action to turn around hospitals.

Measures could include closing units and issuing notices to improve.

If progress is not made, entire boards of directors could be sacked, it has been claimed.

Medway Maritime Hospital. Library image
Medway Maritime Hospital. Library image

Medway Maritime was investigated because its mortality rate on the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) stood out for two years in a row.

At the time the investigation was announced, a Medway NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: "The trust has been doing everything it can to understand the causes of a higher than average HSMR and to implement immediate actions where required."

The other trusts under investigation are: North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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