Scunthorpe General Hospital medical staff 'told to improve quality of care'
The bosses of the trust that runs Scunthorpe General Hospital have accepted there need to be major changes to the way the organisation operates.
Almost 300 more people than expected died during or shortly after being treated in hospitals managed by the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust in one year.
But the trust says people should not be worried about its hospitals.
Dr Liz Scott, medical director at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Patients do not need to worry.
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"The care we provide is absolutely safe.
"We hope to continue to improve our services and improve faster."
The mortality data was revealed in figures published last year – and two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) decided to commission a review into the high mortality rates at the trust.
The latest statistics available from the Department Of Health show 292 more deaths than expected occurred between April 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011.
The review – led by Stephen Ramsden, a former NHS chief executive officer and director of the national Patients Safety First Campaign – made 40 recommendations to try to tackle the issue.
And officials at the trust have voiced their concerns about the high number of deaths in the region.
Dr Scott said: "We wanted to see what was causing the high numbers so I divided the work into two big areas which I think need a lot of work.
"The first one is an issue of coding patients.
"Currently I do not think we record exactly what is wrong with patients fully.
"Full examinations have been neglected and we are bad at coding patients.
"We do not always make it clear what the illness is.
"I have told medical staff to focus on improving the quality of care.
"Within that, we should look on how we organise care.
"Do we have good senior nurses leading the team? We need to look at this."
Dr Scott said she was concerned with the mortality figures and said they were much higher than she hoped to see.
"A comparison with mortality figures from across England was completed," she said.
"They compose a ratio of all the figures in which 100 is in line with the national average. From our figure of 115, it looks like more people are dying than expected.
"The ratio tried to take into account all factors which contribute to death, but it is a very complex process.
"We are currently in a steady state, with not a lot of change in the mortality rates.
"I want to see the numbers going down.
"We are narrowing the gap, but our figures are still a lot higher than our peers."
Part of the report said staffing at all three hospitals – Scunthorpe General Hospital, Grimsby's Diana Princess of Wales Hospital and Goole and District Hospital – need to be urgently reviewed.
Dr Scott said: "We are using an indicator to monitor levels.
"Head nurse Dr Karen Dunderdale is already doing a lot of work with the nurses to see how we can improve the care.
"We are looking at a flexible staff system.
"We need to do quite a bit of work monitoring patients and making sure we always have the correct information.
"We need to improve and this report was very helpful.
"We also need to work on recognising deteriorating patients across the hospitals.
"All the doctors in Scunthorpe are doing a great job in taking this report seriously."
She said efforts were now being made to improve the figures.
"Mortality measures are subject to many factors, some of which are within our control and some of which are not," she said.
"Their purpose is for us to monitor progress over time, to make sure we do all we can to provide the highest quality of care.
"The trust has set up a Mortality Task Group, which is investigating every area where there is possibility of a higher mortality ratio.
"It is also reviewing every death that occurs to see if anything could have been done differently.
"We will continue to rigorously monitor all indicators, including our mortality data, to ensure we give the very best care possible to our patients."
In a statement released by the Trust's press office, Karen Jackson, chief executive at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I would like to reassure people that this trust places the highest priority on patient safety and we are taking the results, and the independent report findings, very seriously.
"This issue stretches beyond our hospitals into the wider healthcare community and we have worked with our health partners to plan a series of actions that address every recommendation made in the report.
"Working with our commissioners, we are jointly driving forward improvements that will enable the mortality ratio to be brought into line with other trusts around the country.
"Many of the tasks in the action plan have already been implemented and we will continue to monitor our progress rigorously.
"What the statistics do not demonstrate is the dedication from staff at all levels to the provision of safe, high quality care to patients in all of our hospitals."