It is that time of year again, when the national media celebrate the annual publication of the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2011.
The guide was revealed in the Daily Telegraph, with coverage in most other papers. The story of the stats had a different twist this year, moving on from simply showing variations in death rates at different hospitals.
There is a 10 per cent “greater risk of dying in hospital at the weekend” because fewer senior medical staff are on duty, the Telegraph reported – no doubt confirming what many in the NHS already knew. Overall, however, the hospital mortality rate is 20 per cent lower than a decade ago.
This week also signals the end of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry. On Monday the Telegraph reported that the trust’s former chief executive Martin Yeates “who said he was too ill to attend two inquiries into patient deaths at his hospital has enjoyed a skiing trip with friends”.
The story provided little detail, except to say the “Cure the NHS” campaign group was “angered by the news”. The paper said Mr Yeates had been “unavailable for comment” on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that “private nurses are being hired to feed and wash elderly patients in NHS hospitals”. The story, a follow-up on a case from earlier this year, said the Patients Association knew of eight cases from the last six months.
The NHS made a rare foray into the business section of the Times, which reported it was “being overcharged by £100m a year for vaccines to immunise British children”. The claim was made by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chair of the Serum Institute of India, which produces half the world’s vaccines.
The papers also built up to the planned pensions strike on Wednesday with warnings of thousands of delayed operations.