Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has ordered an annual review of avoidable deaths in hospital which he had described as the “biggest scandal in global healthcare.”
England is to become the first county in the world to monitor the extent of avoidable deaths in an attempt to reduce the figures.
Hunt has said previously that the failure to investigate hospital death rates was a “tragedy” and it would seem his thoughts have finally been put into action.
Notes taken by staff relating to the treatment of a sample of 2,000 patients who later died will be examined every year to determine where mistakes have been made. Additional training for new clinical staff has also been promised as part of the reform.
A report by healthcare analysts Dr Foster published on Sunday has found a “significant reduction” in the overall death rate in 11 NHS trusts that were put into special measures, which have been credited for saving hundreds of lives.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said under the annual review announced by Hunt, hospitals will be placed into bands depending on the number deaths estimated locally.
“By March 2016, every hospital board will have the first of an annual series of projected avoidable mortality rates to inform and drive local improvement,” she said.
“The health secretary will require every hospital chairman to write to him upon receipt of their figures each year to update him on how they plan to eradicate avoidable deaths in their organisation.”
Hunt said: “I’m determined to go even further in rooting out poor care, and have ordered a national case-note review to work out the percentage of avoidable deaths by hospital.
“I want all hospital boards to have a laser-like focus on eradicating avoidable deaths in their organisation; even one life lost to poor care or safety error is too many.”
The announcement comes days before a report on the treatment of NHS whistleblowers is set to be published.
Sir Robert Francis, who led the damning report into the Mid Staffs Hospital scandal, will present his findings on how the service deals with staff members who try to raise concerns over standards of care.