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Mortality rates put under the spotlight

New information on mortality rates in NHS hospitals has been published today as part of plans to give patients and the public more transparent and robust information about their local NHS.

The new Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) compares the actual number of patients who die following treatment at a trust with the number who would be expected to die, given the characteristics of the patients treated there.

For the first time, it considers all deaths that take place both in hospital and within 30 days of discharge, offering a more comprehensive picture of deaths following hospital care.

The SHMI shows mortality rates for every acute non-specialist trust in England – providing a single comprehensive indicator that will be used consistently across the NHS.  It will also highlight trusts with the lowest mortality which can provide valuable learning on how quality of care can be improved.

Each trust has a single SHMI value but the data has been published with two different methods of categorising trusts as having ‘as expected’, ‘higher than expected’ and ‘lower than expected’ mortality rates. One method reduces the potential for falsely identifying borderline trusts as ‘higher than expected’, and therefore identifies fewer trusts as higher or lower than expected. The other method is more sensitive, identifying more trusts as higher or lower than expected.

The data shows:

  • the vast majority of trusts have a mortality rate that falls within an expected range – 119 using the less sensitive control limits and 79 using the more sensitive control limits
  • for Trusts with higher than expected mortality, 14 are identified using the less sensitive control limits and 36 using the more sensitive control limits
  • 14 trusts have lower than expected mortality using the less sensitive control limits and 32 Trusts for the more sensitive control limits.


[quote top=Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said] We are determined to improve patient safety and shine a light on poor performance by giving patients, public and the NHS more robust information about their hospital trust.[/quote]

Source: Department of Health