Hospitals ‘are covering up death rates’ – and then sack whistleblowers

Rosemary Bennett in the Times 29th March 2014 reports: Hospitals ‘are covering up death rates’ – Perverse incentives rule –

Hospitals have been accused of manipulating their death rates by classifying thousands of patients as terminally ill.

In an attempt to improve their statistics, they appear to be covering up the fact that patients admitted for treatable conditions are dying, experts say.

At some trusts, the percentage reported as having serious diseases, so their deaths are considered “unavoidable”, has increased more than tenfold in three years.

The information was uncovered by Dr Foster Intelligence, a joint venture with the Department of Health that monitors the performance of the NHS.

Roger Taylor, director of research at Dr Foster, said that an elderly patient might go into hospital with a broken hip, develop an infection and die. Staff would code this death as “palliative” even though the patient was not initially expected to die. This could be deliberate or a mistake.

Hospitals have defended their data gathering. The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals said they had specialist services offering care to terminally ill patients. “We now code those patients as palliative to ensure they receive appropriate care.”….

Kate Gibbons reported March 3rd 2014: Threat to sack NHS deaths whistleblower

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Perverse Incentives, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

1 thought on “Hospitals ‘are covering up death rates’ – and then sack whistleblowers

  1. Pingback: Mid Staffordshire NHS trust fined for ‘avoidable and tragic death’ – we may all need an advocate.. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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