WYE Valley NHS Trust (WVT) has one of the highest death rates in England according to survey results out this morning (Wed).

The Trust is one of six with death rates identified as "higher than expected"  by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) which analysed mortality ratios between 2011-2013.

This analysis features in an experimental report based on a comparisons between the actual number of patients to die following hospitalisation at a particular trust  and the number that would be expected to die.

In turn, that expectation figure is based on an average for England and the characteristics of the patients treated at a particular trust.

The study takes in deaths occurring during a stay at a trust and within 30 days of discharge, with the eventual vales for individual trusts categorised "as expected", "lower than expected" or "higher than expected".

In presenting today's report, the HSCIC stresses that mortality figures require careful interpretation and need to be viewed alongside other evidence, rather than as a stand-alone verdict on trust performance.

The trusts categorised as higher than expected  between July 2011 and June 2013 were: Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust,  Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Wye Valley NHS Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

There are currently a number of mortality indicators used in the NHS designed by different organisations using different statistical methods to help identify trends that require further investigation.     

The risk of the patient dying in hospital or within 30 days of discharge is estimated from a statistical model based on the condition for which the patient is in hospital, other underlying conditions from which the patient suffers, age, sex and the method of admission.

In May last year the Hereford Times reported patient death rates across WVT rose so fast in a single month they were among the worst in the UK.

Deaths soared from 78 to 133 between October and November 2012 with the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) calling for more “transparency” from the trust over what such statistics showed.

Until that rise, death rate at the trust had fallen consistently.

The trust went to work on the figures with national health and social care intelligence provider Dr Foster to recommend that any review of the rise focused on septicaemia and palliative cases.
Submitted for recalculation, the figures identified five cases as incorrectly coded.

Every death across the trust is reviewed and the CCG meets monthly with the trust around this.

National leads have approved the CCG approach to death rate scrutiny which also includes reviews of primary care performance.

WVT has kept up consistently high scores in performance quality measures including patient safety and clinical effectiveness. Figures for the past eight years show the trust’s average baseline mortality rates have improved significantly.