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Lives saved by ‘special measures’

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

A recent report has highlighted the number of deaths that were potentially prevented by the ‘special measures’ programme placed on 11 of England’s failing hospital trusts. The report, which was carried out by the Dr Foster data analysis company, looked at the individual failing hospitals identified in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal. The report highlighted how average death rates fell after these urgent measures were put in place.

The Stafford Hospital scandal saw hundreds of patients receive inadequate health care, prompted by the death of a woman in 2007. It was found that patients were being left unattended for hours on end, patients were being left on trolleys, and the maintenance in operating theatres was below standard. The scandal prompted a review of all hospital trusts to be carried out, which resulted in 11 being placed under ‘special measures’.

“Hundreds of deaths … did not happen”

‘Special measures’ saw a team of external experts being sent into the individual hospital trusts to work with their senior management teams. They would help pinpoint areas for improvement, and ensure that these improvements were carried out; providing regular updates on their progress.

Analysts from Dr Foster examined the death rates from before and after the intervention, finding that “hundreds of deaths that might otherwise have occurred without the intervention did not happen”. The report found that death rates had fallen by 9.4% compared with a 3.3% decrease nationally.

Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director, said: “What this report shows is that by following the smoke and carrying out proper, transparent analysis and supporting as necessary, you can help hospitals make significant improvements.

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