Hospitals are preparing for tough criticism over the thousands of needless deaths that will be revealed in a major report released today.
A report conducted by NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is expected to say that 14 healthcare trusts had higher than expected death rates between 2010 and 2012.
It will describe poor care, medical errors and management blunders at the 14 Trusts which have been investigated over high mortality rates. The review has been examining if trusts have already taken action adequate enough to improve care quality or if they require extra support.
In his review, Sir Bruce will highlight that the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal may not have been an isolated incident.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman has suggested that hospital board members could be suspended following care failings.
“Clearly there have been examples where patients and families have not received the high quality, compassionate care that it so important,” David Cameron's spokesman said.
“The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State, and all the Government are deeply, deeply concerned at the evidence of failings in the NHS.
“It is important to have undergone the review to get to the bottom of where failings may be occurring. What people can be very clear about is the Government's commitment to that culture of compassion and high quality care.
“The Government will continue to take the action that is necessary.
“One of the things the Prime Minister said in response to the Francis Inquiry is that a single failure regime would be set up whereby the suspensions of boards can be triggered by failures in care.”
As part of the Government's response to the Francis report into serious care failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, ministers said that if a hospital is deemed to be failing, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals could initiate a failure regime in which the board could be suspended or the hospital put into administration.
Following publication of the public inquiry, Sir Bruce launched an investigation into the 14 other trusts because of their high mortality rates.
Nine of the trusts have been “outliers” on the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) for two years running and the other five were identified by the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) as having higher than expected death rates.
The latest SHMI data, published in April, in which the number of patients who died following admission to hospital is compared with the number who would be expected to die, suggests that as many as 3,000 people may have died needlessly in just one year at the 14 trusts.
Researchers said that death rates were deemed to be “higher than expected” at eight of the trusts and “as expected” at the other six of the trusts.
The trusts which have been under review are: Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Medway NHS Foundation Trust, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Reports suggest Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will send teams of expert “hit squads” into 10 of the trusts to turn around hospitals, the Daily Telegraph said.
Professor Sir Brian Jarman, one of Sir Bruce's advisers and a mortality data expert, said that he warned health officials over the course of a decade about the high death rates but was ignored.
“We felt we were banging against a locked door,” he added.
Tories are likely to seize on the findings of the review to attack Labour's handling of the health service. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham was in charge of the NHS between June 2009 and May 2010.
But Ed Miliband, Labour leader defended his party's management of the NHS and said yesterday that he was “proud” of Labour's health record in government.
Pressed on the role of the then Health Secretary, he said: “I think that's what you get from this Government, which is that they are wanting to politicise some of the problems there have been in the NHS.
“Now, we were very vigilant about dealing with those problems and I am very proud of Labour's record on the NHS.”
“The high mortality rates had been known about for years previously and some of the trusts also had other indicators suggesting problems with patient safety. For example, Tameside had failed to implement large numbers of patient safety alerts at the same time as it had high mortality rates. We need a regulator who will investigate when there is one serious indication of a problem, let alone several”.
Additional reporting by PA