High mortality rates typical of Welsh district hospitals

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NHS Wales logo The majority of district general hospitals in Wales have mortality rates above the predicted level, according to health board figures.

Of the 17 district general hospitals (providing acute and secondary or tertiary care) in Wales, 11 have higher death rates than expected.

The highest mortality rate recorded was at the country’s largest hospital, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff: 28% above the predicted level.

While the figures were recognised by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board as a “cause for concern”, there are doubts about the death rate prediction, which is applied uniformly across England and Wales.

Poverty is not included in the calculation of risk-adjusted mortality predictions, but these figures suggest that it may be a risk factor.

Chris Jones, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales, commented: “Mortality data must act as a trigger to review areas where deaths are higher than expected.”

However, he argued, mortality case note reviews were need to establish whether poor care was a factor – and “deprivation” could also be relevant.

“Given the complexities of mortality measurements, we will be looking at whether we need to develop an official mortality measure tailored specifically to the NHS in Wales,” he said.