Deaths on the rise at Hartlepool and Stockton hospitals

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

HEALTH chiefs say there must not be a “knee-jerk” reaction after a rise in mortality rates at a hospital trust over the winter months.

Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say they have to carefully analyse the data after figures showed the number of deaths for December 2012 and January this year increased to 164 and 165 respectively from 116 in November.

Research by the Trust, which runs hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton, revealed none of the deaths were down to care or decision making in hospital.

Initial investigations revealed that out of the 164 deaths in December, 25 per cent were down to pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis.

A clinical care review team found no cause for concern regarding clinical decisions or care received within the hospital sites.

Alan Foster, chief executive of the Trust, said: “What we can’t have is a knee jerk reaction.

“We have to understand the data and the real issue is doing the audit work and looking at the detail.”

A total of 29 sets of notes randomly selected from the patient deaths recorded in hospital in December last year were reviewed at a Trust Directors Group Seminar in March.

Of the 29 records reviewed, 10 patients suffered from COPD, five were at the end of life stage of cancer and three had pneumonia.

Sixteen patients had been admitted from their own homes, 11 from nursing or residential homes, one from an outpatient clinic and one from a different hospital.

A report added: “Clinical care was well documented overall and the review panel could find no cause for concern regarding clinical decisions or outcome, in relation to the cases reviewed.”

Trust chairman, Paul Garvin, added: “If we were to turn the clock back five or six years then that level of understanding behind the figures was not there.

“The team is very pro-active in looking into the data.”