Dr Foster has published its 2009 Hospital Guide, in which it has scored trusts on an overall patient safety measure and banded those with similar scores between 1 for the poorest performers and 5 for the best.
The Guide shows that overall, ‘Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios’ (HSMRs) decreased nationally by 7 per cent last year and 32 trusts have low HSMRs. Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation trust , which was criticised last year by the Healthcare Commission for failings in quality of care, has reduced its death rates by 34% compared to three years ago.
However, less positively the Guide found that 27 trusts still have significantly high HSMRs; seven trusts are not compliant with National Patient Safety Agency alerts; and 5024 people admitted with low risk conditions died in hospital last year (848 under the age of 65). Although it is inevitable that some patients with these conditions will die during or after treatment, comparing rates between hospitals and investigating those deaths that do occur are, says Dr Foster, useful ways of identifying failings in patient safety.
The Guide also reveals that last year at least 209 foreign objects were left behind in patients after operations, with 9 trusts recording six or more incidents, and 82 incidents of ‘wrong-site’ surgery took place (operating on the wrong body part). Whilst these incidents should never occur, the figures are, says Dr Foster, evidence that the NHS is developing a commendable culture of openness and reporting.
Roger Taylor, Director and co-founder of Dr Foster said: "Over the last nine years of the Hospital Guide we have seen a steady improvement in hospital performance but unacceptable variation between hospitals still exists. Dr Foster will continue to publish data in order to provide information to the public, drive improvement in patient care and save lives.
"Hospital trusts should use the Guide to carefully investigate where problems exist, even those who have performed well. Patients and the public should use the Hospital Guide to help make choices about where they want to be treated, to ask the right questions of their health professionals and to hold hospitals to account."
Through the website www.drfosterhealth.co.uk Dr Foster say thay will also provide an example ‘Quality Account’ that they hope will stimulate discussion as to how quality accounts should be used across the NHS.
Download the Dr Foster 2009 Hospital Guide here.