High death rates report is ‘misleading,’ claim hospital bosses

South Tyneside District Hospital.
South Tyneside District Hospital.

A report revealing “higher than expected” mortality rates at South Tyneside District Hospital is “misleading”, according to health bosses.

 The monitoring report on the borough’s NHS Foundation Trust, compiled by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), says hospital mortality rates between July 2013 and June last year represented an “elevated risk” – although specific death rates are not revealed.

Number of deaths is below national average

Health spokesperson

 The health regulator recently visited the Trust and a full report will be published later this year.

But today the borough’s health Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group defended its recording, saying: “These detailed statistics form an important part of our monitoring of the Trust’s performance and quality but can give a misleading impression if they are taken out of context.

“The reported mortality rate for the Trust can appear higher than in other areas because the figures include St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland, as well as South Tyneside District Hospital itself.

“Many other hospital trusts work with a local hospice in a similar way but maintain separate statistical records.

“In fact, the most recent data indicated that the number of deaths in the hospital is below the national level and only raised when deaths in the hospice are included.”

A CQC spokesperson said: “Mortality rates are important but in isolation they do not determine whether a hospital is providing poor care.

“They are one of 150 indicators that we use as part of our intelligent monitoring of NHS acute services that look at a range of information.”