The hospital death rate in Wales’ aging society exceed the world’s average index in five out of six health boards, the mortality statistics report revealed today.
The report has stated that 11 out of 17 general hospitals in Wales have higher mortality rates than average. The officials referred to the statistics published by the Welsh government as a “fire alarm” as the rate is higher than expected.
The hospital mortality data published today by the Local Health Boards in Wales revealed that the standardised Risk-Adjusted Mortality Index (RAMI) for Wales reaches almost 6 per every group of 1,000 hospitalized Welshmen.
During the recent period, five out of six local health boards in Wales had scores higher than the world’s death rate index of 100.
The highest mortality index was noted in Cardiff and Vale Health Board (116), University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff (128) and Cwm Taf Health Bard (118).
Dr Graham Shortland, the medical director for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said in a statement issued to The Archer: “Although we are confident the services we provide are safe, we are not complacent and we are going to be make sure we check and investigate it properly.”
The report is a part of a larger initiative pursued to make the NHS more transparent in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal which abuse prompted hundreds of unnecessary deaths between 2005 and 2008.
Chris Jones, Deputy Chief Medical Officer told The Archer that the Welsh authorities would be looking at whether there was a need to develop an official mortality measure tailored specifically to the NHS in Wales.
“The data published today add to a range of information available to help us assess the quality of our care. Only through a mortality case note review can it be determined whether a patient’s death may be associated with poor care,” he said.
Mr Jones also said that despite the report’s findings, the data should not be viewed in isolation as a measure of the quality of hospital care.
The crude death rates in Welsh hospitals vary. The highest rates for average deaths in hospitals were noted by Hywel Dda Health Board reaching over 37 out of 1,000 hospitalised. The second largest mortality rate was found by Cardiff and Vale University reaching up to 26 out of 1,000 people.
Despite this, the report states that the health boards have, respectively, 21 and 23 per cent of their population aged 65 or over, which unsurprisingly contributes to the inconsistency of high and lower crude death rates in different health boards.
Only 15 per cent of people living in Cardiff and Vale health board area are aged 65 or over.
Chris Davies, the spokesperson of the Cardiff and Vale Health Board told The Archer: “We do believe that the correlation to backlogging some of the data has something to do [with the rise in mortality rate in five out of six hospitals in Wales]”.
“We don’t have the current figure because these are based on rolling figures which can be accessed online,” he added.
Data which determines the RAMI is believed to be affected by a number of factors including age, place of death, deprivation and the data collection systems from patient records to ensure they accurately reflect the diagnosis and treatment.
The officials have warned that the report’s figures were difficult to interpret due to many various aspects examined by the report.
Due to many inconsistencies in the report, its reliability and accuracy has been frequently questioned.
Welsh Health Minister, Mark Drakeford told The Archer: “There are some concerns about the quality and consistency of the data provided by Health Boards to the RAMI system.”
“A higher than average number of expected deaths should not be interpreted as the number of avoidable deaths,” said Mr Drakeford. “Mortality data must, however, act as a trigger to review areas where deaths are higher than expected.”
“The Welsh Government is committed to improving access to NHS information,” he reassured
While the mortality rate in Wales is also linked to the fact that Welsh society is ageing, the problem has different undertows in other parts of the world.
Due to many developments in India, Infant mortality rate in Gurgaon, the second largest city in the Indian state of Haryana, has decreased in the last few years, and it stands today at 44 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Varinder Tyagi, surveillance medical officer of World Health Organization, said in a public statement: “The IMR has dropped by 4% in the last few years due to increased institutional deliveries and better health care facilities in the hospitals.”
The highest mortality rates reach from 116 to almost 185 in developing countries, such as Angola, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Liberia and Niger.