Have hospitals paid to cover up deaths?

In a dramatic new twist to the NHS death scandal, NHS trusts have been accused of using taxpayers’ money to cover up deaths by hiring a company to reclassify the data.

The company CHKS, advertised to NHS trusts that it had reduced one hospitals mortality rate by a third; that hospital is now being investigated for high death rates.

This reduction was achieved by categorising patients so that their deaths were seen as unavoidable, therefore they would have less impact on mortality league tables.

Patrick Oliver, expert clinical negligence lawyer at Swain & Co Solicitors, says, “The result of this action appears to be a cover of problems with patient care. The better action would have been to address the patient care issues and reduce mortality, rather than manipulate data.”

This is yet another blow to public confidence amid the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust scandal where 1200 people died unnecessarily, and indicates it is more of a widespread problem than initially thought.

It also comes days after the Chief Executive of Bolton NHS Trust was forced to resign over an alleged cover up of high death rates. The Trust used CHKS.

Patrick explains, “By hospitals re-categorising patients as in the ‘end of life’ or ‘palliative care’ category, deaths will have less impact on data because they are considered as being unavoidable. It appears NHS trusts have made a wide interpretation of the terms.”

“We are talking about real people and their lives here. The NHS has got to be more open to restore confidence.”

Swain & Co has been urging doctors to take responsibility for many years (see earlier post here). Did you know that doctors do not have a professional obligation to admit to medical mistakes they make?

It is not acceptable when they have people’s lives in their hands.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical negligence, speak to Patrick Oliver, Melanie Lidstone Land or Graeme Swain as soon as possible.

Legal Aid changes are coming on 1st April 2013, and therefore if you think you, a family member or a friend may have a medical negligence claim, you need to ACT NOW.

Call Patrick, Melanie or Graeme for free on 0800 0351 999.

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Medical negligence is causing 1600 child deaths a year
Nine more hospitals to be investigated over death rates