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Row erupts over hospital’s death rates

DEATH RATES ROW ... Alan Rodgers, medical director with South Tyneside Health Trust, has hit back at rankings released by the Royal College of Nursing.

DEATH RATES ROW ... Alan Rodgers, medical director with South Tyneside Health Trust, has hit back at rankings released by the Royal College of Nursing.

A LEAGUE table of death rates in hospitals puts South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust second from bottom.

Death rates for 145 hospital trusts in England were published yesterday in the latest report by health service analysts Dr Foster.

The report uses four different sets of data to conclude that South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is “within the expected range” for a health body of its size.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), however, has used the statistics to publish its own ‘league table’ of eight health trusts regionally based on the report’s mortality indicators.

That puts the South Tyneside trust as second worst in the North East, with only North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust rated lower.

The table rates the borough’s trust as 114th out of 145 trusts nationwide.

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust performs best of all North East health authorities with a national ranking of 23rd.

But Alan Rodgers, medical director with the Trust, dismissed the league table as “erroneous and alarmist”.

He said the Trust often suffered statistically because of its smaller size in comparison to neighbouring health bodies, meaning a few deaths can make a “massive difference” to the statistics.

And he also pointed out that the trust was ranked 17th best in Dr Foster’s report for the level of deaths after surgery.

Mr Rodgers said: “Our average hospital mortality indicator for all deaths is within the expected range.

“The Royal College of Nursing has put its own interpretation on these figures and turned it into a ranking exercise, which is flawed because the statistics don’t allow you to do that.”

But the Royal College of Nursing insist the results raise some “cause for concern”.

Glen Turp, RCN regional director, said: “Overall, there is a mixture of good and less good news here, for the region. We are obviously very pleased to see trusts like City Hospitals Sunderland and Newcastle Hospitals performing well nationally, across a basket of measures. But other Trusts’ results give cause for concern.

“The RCN congratulates the hard work and dedication of the nursing teams at these Trusts, who have played such an important part in delivering success and high quality outcomes for patients.

“It is obviously disappointing to see other Trusts in our region have performed less well, and we need to look in more detail as to whether there are mitigating factors or explanations for this.”

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