Two large foundation trusts have questioned the methods and findings of the Dr Foster Hospital Guide, ahead of its publication this weekend.
Findings from this year’s guide are due to be published on Sunday, in a national newspaper and on Dr Foster’s website. The publication will again rate trusts using various quality and safety measures, including the hospital standardised mortality ratio calculated by Dr Foster Intelligence.
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust both published statements on Friday criticising the guide, though it is currently not known what it says about either of the foundation trusts.
The Newcastle statement said Dr Foster’s information “in certain instances appears flawed and misleading”. Chief executive Sir Leonard Fenwick said: “We are an evidence based organisation and positively welcome any rational assessment but in this instance the good name of this trust and apparently many others can be so easily tarnished. Some of the findings may need to carry a health warning.”
In a lengthy statement from University Hospitals Birmingham (see right), medical director Dave Rosser said: “The figures do not accurately reflect the quality of care given at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
“We believe there is a risk that figures like these could cause unnecessary confusion and distress amongst patients and are a distraction to concentrating on providing the best in care for our patients.
“We take any death of a patient in our hospitals very seriously and have a very robust and sophisticated system in place for monitoring them.
“The trust independently asked one of the world’s most-renowned hospitals The Cleveland Clinic in the United States to review our mortality data and they reported no cause for concern.”
University Hospitals Birmingham was one of two trusts this year that did not complete a questionnaire sent by Dr Foster, which is used to complete the guide. The two trusts will be named in the guide. The other is George Eliot Hospital Trust, which did not want to comment until the guide is published.
Dr Rosser’s statement continued: “The trust did not complete the Dr Foster questionnaire for the Hospital Guide as it spends nearly £1m each year on employing staff to provide information mandated by numerous statutory bodies, which monitor and regulate care quality.
“The trust felt it was not good use of public money and resource to fill in the detailed survey when a significant proportion of the information required by Dr Foster was already publicly available.”
In response to the Birmingham statement, Dr Foster director of research Roger Taylor said: “The Department of Health have clearly stated that HSMRs should never be ignored and we stand firmly behind this view. it is not the case that there are 102 deaths that we cannot explain how they are attributed to the trust.
“We can explain exactly how every death is attributed to the trust. we do not believe the methodology is flawed.”