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Patient safety target met 15 months early

10% drop in hospital death rate in Scotland since 2014

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The rate of hospital deaths in Scotland has fallen by 10.6% since 2014 thanks to a patient safety initiative, according to the Scottish Government.

The latest Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMR) report published today shows there were 7,800 fewer than expected deaths between the first quarter of 2014 (January to March) and the third quarter of 2017 (July to September) – a drop of 10.6%.

The government says the success is due to the Scottish Patient Safety Programme – an initiative launched in January 2008 – which is designed to reduce harm and improve the safety and reliability of healthcare.

Originally, the aim of the programme was to reduce hospital mortality by 15% by December 2012, subsequently extended to a 20% reduction by December 2015.

Between October-December 2007 and October-December 2015, hospital mortality fell by 16.5%, equating to 20,000 fewer deaths than expected.

Following changes to the methodology and baseline of the HSMR, a revised target was then introduced to reduce hospital mortality by a further 10% by quarter ending December 2018, meaning the target has been met 15 months early.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “Thanks to a decade of hard work by the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, we’ve met this key aim over a year earlier than planned. But most importantly, it means more lives have been saved that may otherwise have been lost.

“This comes at a time when our NHS is treating more people, with more complex needs. While we want to go further, it shows that we continue to lead the way on patient safety, with other countries looking to learn from our approach.”

Professor Jason Leitch, national clinical director for NHS Scotland, said: “These figures show the unprecedented success of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme – now in its tenth year of operation. I want to thank the thousands of staff across the country who have delivered that with professionalism, dedication and commitment.

“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg, representing reductions in infections, falls, and many other harms. We should celebrate those achievements, and the culture of openness and learning they have enabled.

“As our safety programme has grown, it has continued to improve the safety of healthcare wherever it is delivered, ensuring better outcomes for some of our most vulnerable people. That will continue as the programme expands to care homes and other sectors.”

Robbie Pearson, chief executive of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “We welcome the news that the hospital mortality ratio in Scotland is continuing to fall. It is an important measure in stimulating reflection on the quality and safety of patient care.

“Today's news also highlights the progress that has been made by initiatives such as our Scottish Patient Safety Programme.”

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