Page last updated at 02:59 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 03:59 UK

NHS to publish death rates on web

A tribute wall to the people who died at Stafford Hospital
The hospital watchdog said people died unnecessarily at Stafford Hospital

The NHS is to make it easier to compare success and failure of English hospitals by publishing death rates and other tables on its own website.

The Department of Health already publishes general ratings for death rates on the NHS Choices site for procedures including hip replacements.

But it will shortly give much more specific information, allowing patients to compare local hospitals.

The move was promised in a report by health minister Lord Darzi last year.

The NHS says the move is part of a commitment to sharing more information.

The recent investigation into failings at Stafford Hospital was triggered by its high mortality rates.

The hospital watchdog, the Healthcare Commission, concluded there were 400 deaths more than would have been expected at the hospital and that there were deficiencies at "virtually every stage" of emergency care.

Peer information

In the next few weeks, patients and doctors will be able to access standardised mortality ratios, or HSMRs, for every hospital in England.

Rather than being a crude death rate, the HSMR is a measure of how many patients with particularly conditions die compared with how many would be expected to die.

HSMRs are already used to rank hospitals and are based on how many patient deaths occur above expected levels.

The NHS already publishes the generalised mortality rates for heart surgery, hip and knee replacements and abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs.

The Department of Health said it was important for doctors to see how their peers were performing as well as offering patients the chance to use the data to choose hospitals.

The tables published on the NHS Choices site will be accompanied by information for patients to help them understand the strengths and weaknesses of the figures.

Print Sponsor

Failing hospital 'caused deaths'
17 Mar 09 |  Staffordshire

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