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Local MPs in Commons Questions, Why the Variation in Hospital Covid-19 Mortality Rates?

Published on: 19 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 19 Jul, 2020

Matt Hancock and Angela Richardson at the entrance to the Royal Surrey during the general election campaign in November 2019.

By Martin Giles

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson (Con) highlighted the quick provision of the new isolation ward at the Royal Surrey during a Covid update debate in Parliament as Health Secretary Matt Hancock took questions.

Ms Richardson said: “On Monday morning [July 20], I will attend the opening of the new Guildford ward at the Royal Surrey, a 20-room, fully equipped with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), isolation ward built in just four months.”

She complimented Guildford Borough Council for ensuring the planning process did not delay construction “Will my Right Hon friend join me in congratulating the local council on the pragmatism shown and the hospital on its forward planning?

“Does he agree that in the event of a localised spike in cases requiring hospitalisation, the Royal Surrey will be well-placed to deal with it effectively?”

Mr Hancock said: “Yes. My hon friend is a great champion of the Royal Surrey at Guildford. The hospital has done a brilliant thing by, in short order, expanding its capabilities in this crisis, as have many other hospitals around the country.

“One of the positive things that has come out of it has been the dynamism and flexibility of parts of the NHS and their collaboration with local authorities.

“Both of those have risen to heights never previously seen, and I hope we can bottle that best practice and make sure we keep a dynamic, flexible NHS that works collaboratively with local authorities long into the future.”

Jeremy Hunt

In the same debate, Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative MP for Guildford’s neighbouring constituency, SW Surrey, who chairs the Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee, focused on the unexplained differences in Covid mortality rates between hospitals in Surrey. The RSCH has the lowest number of Covid-19 deaths.

See also: Royal Surrey Staff Feel Treatment Approach Has Kept Covid-19 Survival Rate High

He said: “I want to ask the Health Secretary about the worrying variation in coronavirus mortality rates between hospitals, which appear to range from 12.5% to 80%.

“There may be some issues of deprivation or ethnicity, but some of that variation is likely to be due to a failure in some hospitals to adopt best practice, which is what the Getting It Right First Time programme, led by Professor Tim Briggs, addresses.

“Will my Right Hon friend agree to meet me and Professor Briggs to discuss whether the Getting It Right First Time programme could help to reduce Covid mortality rates?

The table shows the number of Covid associated deaths per Surrey NHS Trust, ranked together with a sample of trusts in surrounding areas. As well as the possible difference in treatment practices, other factors such as size and the demographic of catchment areas might account for the variation of mortality rates.

The Health Secretary said: “As my Right Hon friend knows better than almost anybody, the unjustified variation in performance between different hospitals within the NHS is a huge issue across the board, because if the standards in every hospital were the same as the standards in the best hospital, the performance of the whole would be so much higher.

“That is exactly what the Getting It Right First Time programme was designed to deliver.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions last week Boris Johnson for the first time, last week committed to an “independent inquiry” into the coronavirus pandemic.

He said now was not the right time for an investigation but there would “certainly” be one “in the future” so lessons could be learned.

The group “Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice” said the PM’s pledge was a “long way from what families need to see” and that the PM has refused to meet them to discuss their concerns.

The UK has “suffered one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate for health and care workers,” said acting Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey.

 

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test 3 Responses to Local MPs in Commons Questions, Why the Variation in Hospital Covid-19 Mortality Rates?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    July 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    From discussion with a family member who works on the Covid-19 wards, I think Frimley Park Hospital was simply overwhelmed in the first weeks. They can’t be blamed for such numbers. I believe no one should lay any blame or demand “justice”.

    Everyone has done their best with what they were presented with. And no one could have done any better. The only investigation should be is how it arrived in our country and how to prevent reoccurrence.

  2. Martin Dennison Reply

    July 19, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    There are huge and unexplained variations in death rate across the world. The UK and most of Europe is @ about 15% but Germany suffered only 4% and many of the countries with big infection/case numbers, eg USA, Brazil, India, Russia are at a similarly low level.

    So what is the secret? Are patients getting earlier or more effective treatment? Are their populations fitter, younger or inherently more immune?

    All worth a major medical study as many lives could still be at stake.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    July 20, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    The table in the article does not disclose a rate. It gives a total number of deaths, presumably cumulated up to the end date. It then states the bed capacity of the hospital. What is the ‘weekly change’?

    To make a meaningful statement about a rate one would need to find some useful ratio eg the ratio of deaths to patients treated. Such a ratio can’t be extracted from the data in this table?

    Editor’s note: The table shows the number of deaths at local NHS Trusts. The weekly change is the number of additional deaths reported in the last week. We did ask for the number of Covid-19 cases being treated at the RSCH early on in the pandemic. It was stated once but then we were told it would not be given as Public Heath controlled the statistics.

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