Health chief hits out at report which flags up high death rates in Bucks hospitals

Dr Graz Luzzi
Dr Graz Luzzi

A hospital chief has slammed a ‘flawed’ and ‘misleading’ survey showing Bucks to be one of 12 trusts out of 168 to have a higher than expected death rate.

The 2012 Dr Foster Hospital Guide showed that Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust, which covers Stoke Mandeville, had a higher than expected rate for deaths following hospital treatment and deaths while in care during 2011-12.

However, medical director Graz Luzzi said the report’s methodology was developed to measure performance in acute non-specialist trusts only.

He said Bucks’ figures were skewed because it is integrated with community hospitals and hospices and as a result cares for more elderly, frail and terminally ill patients.

Dr Luzzi said: “The title says it all. This is a hospital guide, but our care is also delivered at home, in the community and in a hospice. To be effective it is important to compare like with like.

“Hospice beds are obviously not the same and the mortality rates between the two will be hugely different. Most hospitals in England don’t run hospices, but new integrated acute and community health care trusts do.”

Of the trust’s 700 beds, 100 are classed as community and palliative care beds, by their nature serving patients with a higher chance of dying.

Dr Luzzi added: “We would like to reassure local people that patient safety is our absolute priority. While we support the publication of these guides for the public, it is disappointing that the information relating to Buckinghamshire Healthcare appears flawed and misleading.

“But I question whether the information, without adjustment for the factors outlined above, should have been included at all. The trust has done so much to improve patient safety and the overall patient experience, seeing the mortality rate drop year on year over the last three years.”