‘Don’t be afraid’, say hospital bosses

Sutton Kings Mill Hospital 2012
Sutton Kings Mill Hospital 2012

BOSSES at King’s Mill Hospital have reassured the public that they do not need to be afraid about receiving treatment there - even though it is being investigated over high mortality rates.

Executive medical director Dr Nabeel Ali and interim chief executive Eric Morton told Chad that work is being done to improve problem areas that have affected its ‘Hospital Standardised Mortality Rate’ (HSMR) - which includes deaths from septicaemia.

Dr Ali said: “We have been aware of it and we know what’s causing it. We know the areas - which conditions, are having an effect on this.

“But it’s important for everyone to know that we have excellent mortality figures when it comes to patients admitted routinely for surgery.”

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of 14 trusts that the NHS’s medical director Sir Bruce Keogh will be looking into as part of his investigation into hospitals with high mortality rates.

But Dr Ali said the hospital had already identified areas causing concern, looked into what is not right and is taking specific action to improve.

“People out there do not need to be afraid about coming in here,” he said.

“They need to know that if they have any issues they should bring it up with us. We want to be better, not cover up or hide.

“We want to be the best hospital there is.”

In addition to septicaemia, Dr Ali said that kidney failure was an area of worry, whereas the outcome of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia and heart failure is better than average.

Sir Bruce’s investigation comes following the publication of the Francis Report on the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Ali said that he ‘welcomes’ the investigation at Sherwood Forest.

“No one wants bad publicity but I welcome that we will have people coming in to help us get better,” he said.

Eric Morton was also appointed as interim chief executive at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust when hospital watchdog Monitor intervened in its running.

He said there was a ‘stark difference’ between what was happening there and what goes on at King’s Mill, stating that the quality of care at Mid Staffs was ‘worse than poor’.

He reiterated that the HSMR is a ‘smoke alarm’ - a warning that something may be going wrong at a hospital - rather than an actual fire.

It compares the expected rate of death in a hospital with the actual rate of death, looking at factors such as a patients age, the severity of their illness and factors, such as whether they live in a more or less deprived area.

Mr Morton said: “We want to be at least as good as everywhere else, if not better.

“The way we get better is by looking at where people are doing better and learn from them.”

Mr Morton said that King’s Mill has a ‘strong focus on mortality’ but does not hide its problems.

“Hospitals must not be secretive,” he said.

“If we have issues, we should be open about them.”

Dr Ali said that ‘incremental improvements’ are constantly being made at the hospital and though there are complaints about care, many patients are happy.

According to a Friends and Family Survey carried out last week, 59 of 60 inpatients admitted for 24 hours or longer responded that they were ‘extremely likely’ to recommend King’s Mill to family and friends.

Dr Ali said: “There are some good news stories. There are lots of people who use the services and say they have had a good experience.

“The people who live around here need to know we do care about things, we are making them better, but this is not a bad hospital.”