Good news for hospital patients, says report

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WEST Suffolk Hospital has scored well in a national audit on the levels of patient deaths.

The hospital measured an average of 90 in mortality rates in the Hospital Guide, published by Dr Foster. The average national rate is 100.

The figures take into account patients’ ages, the severity of their illness and local deprivation.

The hospital also scored well for providing fast surgery for patients with hip fractures, operating within 48 hours.

Dermot O’Riordan, medical director, said the hospital’s good performance was down to the hard work of clinical staff and the hospital’s ongoing improvements for patient care.

One of the steps it has taken is the round-the-clock monitoring of patients by specialist nurses from critical care who go out on the wards and assess patients whose conditions are deteriorating to ensure early intervention to prevent them having to go to intensive care.

“The trust and the board take this very seriously. We don’t just look at the headline rate we investigate other areas of this scrutiny,” said Mr O’Riordan.

One of the issues raised nationally was that figures showed patients had a greater risk of dying if they went into hospital out of hours and at weekends when senior staff were not always on duty.

Mr O’Riordan said the hospital was not complacent on this issue and their figures were improving.

“It is useful to identify problems and the good news is that statistics across the country are getting better all the time. Each year the standard is re-set and it is a huge effort to maintain that standard. There continue to be areas that we need to focus on and out of hours is one, but care is safe throughout the week at West Suffolk. It’s a challenge but we have specialist nurses who, 24 hours, seven days a week, look at pateints who may be deteriorating to pick up problems early.”

The hospital’s mortality rates are reported to its board on a monthly bases and a red flag system brought in for orthopaedic services has also ensured that elderly frail patients are getting properly nursed and cared for, including making sure they are fed and have adequate water.