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Mortality figure for NHS Trust 'inaccurate'

THE chief executive of Medway NHS Trust has defended the trust after it was found to have the fourth-worst mortality rate in England.

Medway's hospital came second to bottom in a national newspaper good hospital guide. The guide stated that the death rate for the trust is fourth-worst in the country and based on a three-year average - is getting higher.

The most recent figure is 30 per cent above projections, the poorest result in England. But Andrew Horne attacked the figures in a Sunday Times survey as "inaccurate", after Medway Maritime NHS Trust was placed 26 out of 27 trusts across the South East.

He claimed the data wrongly included services administered by the local community trust and therefore meant the majority of the deaths counted were wrongly assigned to the hospital.

The annual 96-page Dr Foster Good Hospital Guide is the only independent audit of hospital standards throughout Britain and Ireland. It includes death rates for the 167 English NHS hospital trusts.

It found Medway, along with hospital trusts in Dartford and Gravesham and Heathwood and Wexham Park, had a mortality rate well above expected levels.

But Mr Horne denied this was the case. He said: "The last published verified information in the NHS Performance Indicators of February 2002 shows Medway death rate for emergencies within 30 days of surgery as being in line with the national average. Our records show this position is unchanged."

The guide looks at death rates and inpatient and outpatient waiting times to measure the performance of the hospital trusts. It also assesses the number of doctors and nurses per 100 beds, cancer waiting times and takes extracts from the National Patient Survey where patients with breast, bowel and prostate cancer assess the quality of care received.

Mr Horne was keen to focus on the positive aspects emerging from the survey, which included progress in reducing waiting times for operations and an increase in inpatients being admitted within six months of the decision to admit. The hospital was also found to have made significant advancements in the time for treatment for thrombolysis.

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