High death rates at Black Country & Stafford Hospitals

Monday 29th October 2018

For those of us living in the Black Country or Staffordshire who rely on our local NHS hospitals, there were some worrying statistics revealed recently into the number of deaths at the local hospitals.

According to figures from NHS Digital, more than 1,000 patients died than were expected at hospitals across the region. 

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross hospital, posted the worst unexpected death rate in the UK last year, with 475 more deaths than had been estimated.

There should have been 2,179 deaths at the hospital or within 30 days of discharge in 2017, but the figures show that 2,654 people died, being 22 per cent more than estimated.

Elsewhere in the region, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Walsall Manor Hospital, had 147 more deaths than expected (10 per cent), and University Hospitals of North Midlands, which runs County Hospital, and had 190 more deaths than expected (five per cent).

The Dudley NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Russells Hall Hospital, had four per cent more deaths than expected at 2,433.

Healthwatch, a health watchdog, said the figures were concerning, but added that more work needs to be done to establish the reasons behind the death rates.

The group’s executive director for Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Walsall, Simon Fogell, said “We will be using our size to also ask why there are variances in neighbouring hospitals that can serve some of the same population.”

Research teams will be undertaking a full analysis of the statistics to find which groups are more affected and to establish if there are any regional patterns that may cause further concern.

These figures are obviously alarming for those of us whom rely on these hospitals for our needs when sick and injured.  Sadly, at Waldrons Solicitors we receive many enquiries each year from bereaved families who have lost loved ones and feel let down by the care that was received. 

It can be a very difficult time and families often want answers and apologies, rather than compensation, which can never bring their loved ones back or truly compensate them for their loss.

However, we are well equipped to guide families through the process of a claim in such circumstances, to help them get answers as to what happened and whether the death was avoidable.  This can be particularly important when families do not feel that the complaint process has provided real answers to their questions.

Clearly, many deaths are not avoidable, but the increase in deaths in excess of what was expected at our local hospitals makes it all the more important to get to the root cause of every death and whether any trends can be understood and lessons learnt.

Adam Smith, Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Waldrons Solicitors