DEATH rates recorded by South Tyneside health chiefs are much higher than expected, latest figures show.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is one of nine across England flagged up by health watchdogs as having higher than predicted mortality rates.
Over the year ending June 2014, 848 deaths were predicted at South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields and St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope, Sunderland, both run by the trust.
However, 1,092 deaths ended up being recorded, 15 per cent more than expected.
That disparity is revealed by summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI) data gathered by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Its data is used to determine the ratio between the actual number of patients who die following hospitalisation and the quantity that would be expected to die on the basis of the characteristics of the patients treated there.
However, trust bosses say their figures are higher because they include the hospice’s data, and if those deaths were removed, the borough’s figures would be in line with the country’s average.
Dr Alan Rodgers, medical director at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We regularly review our mortality data and have robust systems to review deaths in hospital to ensure care is of a good standard and any lessons are learned.
“The figures quoted include a hospice which is part of our trust although sited in a neighbouring district. The patients who die in the hospice are included in our figures but have not actually been treated by our trust until they are admitted for end-of-life care.
“If those figures are excluded, our SHMI falls to the average, and we are not an outlier.
“Our patients can be reassured that mortality in South Tyneside hospitals is not above average.”