Whatever you do, don’t fall ill at the weekend – so say new figures published last week which show rises in death rates in A&E departments across the country.
These were the scaremongering headlines which rang out throughout the country last month and headlines drew their facts from a report published on November 28.
Picture used under creative commons by José Goulão
The Doctor Foster Hospital Guide is published annually and closely scrutinises a range of healthcare data to measure hospital performance and detect trends that could save lives.
Brighton residents can breathe easy, however, after a look at the statistics behind the headlines reveals that the Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) is not one of the offending hospitals.
The Hospital Guide’s mission is transparency in outcomes, patient choice and accountability though it is hard to see the truth when headlines pronounce such strong findings.
This year’s report lists hospital trusts in England that score above and below average on a range of different mortality measures but headlines fail to mention the hundreds of hospitals performing as expected.
The RSCH is one such hospital where all results show it is performing as expected and residents will be relieved to learn there is no increased risk to them if they are admitted as a weekend emergency.
In addition to hospitals’ individual performance, this year’s Hospital Guide found that:
* Patient death rates in England are 20% lower than 10 years ago;
* For certain conditions, patients admitted to hospital at the weekend are less likely to receive prompt treatment and have a higher chance of dying;
* Hospitals conducting certain infrequent operations pose a higher risk to patients than those which carry out high numbers of the operation; and
* Patient comments and ratings, such as those gathered by NHS Choices provide a valuable insight into standards of hospital care.
Throughout the analysis and commentary of the statistics the RSCH is noticeable by its silence: it is neither good, nor bad, outstanding nor failing; its performance simply being “within the expected range”.
Some may find it hard to believe that the RSCH has not received a lower rating, particularly given that only 27 out of 57 people would recommend the hospital and complaints on NHS Choices abound.
However, it seems in the general scheme of hospital services, that Brighton residents are not as hard done by in terms of hospital services as other towns and cities.