14 Jul 2013

NHS: 13,000 needless deaths across 14 trusts

Up to 13,000 people have died needlessly in 14 NHS trusts across England since 2005, a damning report from NHS medical director Bruce Keogh is expected to say this week.

Professor Bruce Keogh’s report will detail failings in 14 trusts, covering poor care, medical errors and management blunders.

The report will suggest that the Mid Staffordshire scandal, where as many as 1,200 patients may have died needlessly at Stafford Hospital, was not a one-off.

Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned the report in February after Robert Francis QC’s inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal. The Department of Health has said it will not speculate as to the contents of the report.

If there is evidence, bring it forward and I will answer it. Andy Burnham, former health secretary

“We’ve shown consistently that we expect the NHS to be accountable where things go wrong,” a spokeswoman said. “That is why the prime minister ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of these issues.”

The revelations, in the Sunday Telegraph, also include that the 14 trusts (see list, below) have paid out £234 million in negligence settlements in the past three years. Many of these cases will date back longer than three years as legal battles often take several years.

The 14 hospital trusts listed in the report: 
Basildon and Thurrock in Essex
United Lincolnshire
Blackpool, Lancashire
The Dudley Group, West Midlands
George Eliot, Warwickshire
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole
Tameside, Greater Manchester
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Colchester, Essex
Medway, Kent
Burton, Staffordshire
North Cumbria
East Lancashire
Buckinghamshire Healthcare

It is likely the Conservative party will use the report to criticise Labour over its stewardship of the NHS, and it has been suggested that they will target Andy Burnham, health secretary under Labour in 2009 and 2010, specifically.

‘Gone downhill’

Mr Burnham told Sky News on Sunday that he would defend his record.

He said: “I will account for all of the things I did as secretary of state. I took actions to reveal what happened at Stafford, I took actions at Basildon, at Tameside, I left warnings in place on five hospitals.

“The Conservative Party briefed this week they were wanting to target me personally. That is what they are wanting to do.

“The Francis Report looked at these matters in detail, it looked at the papers of the last government, and it said no minister did anything wrong… that was the Francis Report. Why is it being re-written now?”

Read Health and Social Care Correspondent Victoria Macdonald's blog: More talk more NHS action? Really?

Mr Burnham added: “If there is evidence, bring it forward and I will answer it – but I have accounted for my actions and I will continue to do so. But I will also point out what’s happening to the NHS on this government’s watch.

“It has gone downhill. Problems at these hospitals have got worse. That is the reality. We had a reorganisation that completely distracted the whole NHS from these issues and that is what I will bring to the attention of the House of Commons on Wednesday when I ask it to endorse early implementation of the Francis Report.”