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NHS hospital death rates among worst in the Western World

Death rates in English hospitals 45% higher than in the US

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Patients in NHS hospitals in England are far more likely to die than those in hospitals in other developed countries, figures revealed by Professor Brian Jarman show in an exclusive report for Channel 4 News.

The figures reveal that the death rates in English hospitals last year were 45 per cent higher than in the US. People in English hospitals have five times the chance of dying from pneumonia and twice the risk of being killed by blood poisoning.

Sir Brian, who pioneered the use of hospital standardised mortality ratios (HSMRs), as a way of measuring whether death rates are higher or lower than expected, calculated that in 2004 death rates for hospitals in England were about 22 per cent higher than the average of seven Western countries, including Canada and France. They were about 58 per cent higher than the best of the countries.

"I expected us to do well and was very surprised when we didn't," Sir Brian told Channel 4 News. "But there is no means of denying the results. They are absolutely clear."

When Sir Brian projected the figures forward to 2012, the hospital death rates in all seven countries had improved - England's faster than some. However, it was still among the worst and had death rates 45 per cent higher than the leading country – the US.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh told Channel 4 News: "We have a health service that is admired around the world, founded on the cradle to grave principle.

"But the other fact is, we still have too many patients dying in our hospitals when their relatives were expecting them to come home."

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