In a report, Dr Foster Intelligence, a private-public partnership company which annually publishes standardised mortality ratio (SMR) league tables for English hospitals they revealed that at Stafford Hospital, about 400 more people died in 3 years between 2005 and 2008 than would be expected. (BBC) Dr Fosters website says .."Our purpose is simple. Dr Foster was founded on a belief in the need for greater transparency about variations in healthcare performance. In so doing, we not only seek to inform patients but to help hospitals assess their own changing patterns of performance and seek out opportunities for improvement."
In their 2008 Hospital Guide (pdf) they quote Lord Darzai . "He emphasises the importance of defining and consistently measuring quality, of making information about the quality of
care widely available in order to pinpoint variations and focus on improvement ..."
“The first dimension of quality must be that we do no harm to patients … Safety must be paramount for the Public trust in the NHS is conditional Lord Darzi,NHS Next Stage Review, June 2008 .. Page 9 of Hospital Guide
On Monday, 31st January 2000 the jury at Preston Crown Court convicted Harold Shipman of 15 murders. The earliest murder of which Shipman was convicted occurred on March 6, 1995.
High Court judge, Dame Janet Smith started and enquiry in January 2001 into deaths caused by Shipman.
In 215 cases, which include those for which Shipman was convicted, she concluded that Shipman had murdered them.
In 45 cases, she was unable to be certain, but strongly suspected Shipman might have killed his patient.
Basd on these mortality figures it was better to be a patient of Harold rather than be a patient at Stafford Hospital.
"It could happen again"
In an interview with Dame Janet Smith on BBC Radio 4, Feb 14th (Times) she claimed that 10 years on from the discovery that the Manchester GP had killed more than 200 patients, she claimed too little has been done to introduce safeguards.
A new system of reisration of death will involve the appointment of medical examiners to scrutinise death certificates and also give families a chance to query what is on the death certificate.
Dame Janet expressed serious concern as to how independent the new medical examiners will be as they will be appointed by the Primary Care Trust in that area and work within the trust’s remit, she says.
“It is said that he or she will be independent, but I fear that will be very difficult because I do not see how an employee of the Primary Care Trust can be independent of the National Health Service.”
If proof were needed about how effective Primary Care Trusts can be the experience of Stafford Hospital should be enough for a call for a Public Enquiry to all deaths over the 3 year period in question.