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Mortality rates vary in UK hospitals

25th April 2007

A new study carried out for the Daily Telegraph has revealed significant variations in the mortality rates in NHS hospitals.

The findings come in a report by Doctor Foster Research, which examined death rates at 152 NHS trusts in England. The study found that patients were twice as likely to die in a hospital with a high mortality rate than in a hospital with the lowest rate.

The study showed an estimated 7,400 people would not have died if those trusts with high mortality rates had improved standards. Although the study did not examine reasons for death at each hospital, it identified lack of "quality of care" as a contributing factor.

Of the 152 trusts studied for their mortality rates, 56 had "high" rates, 51 "average" and 45 "low". The study showed 145 of the trusts had decreased death rates over the past five years.

Roger Taylor, the research director at Dr Foster Research, told the Telegraph: "We have seen some fantastic efforts by many hospitals to reduce mortality rates. Patients have a right to expect that all hospitals should do the same. Wide variations are worrying and indicate variable standards in the quality of care in hospitals."

The Department of Health told the newspaper they advised patients against using the statistics to assess hospital safety standards. A spokesman stated that a single figure could not accurately represent a hospital's performance, or provide the basis for comparison with other hospitals across the country.


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