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LATEST figures have shown that the Belford hospital in Fort William has higher patient death rates than the national average.
Recent Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMR) show that from January 2016 to March 2016, the Belford had an HSMR of 2.55 for deaths within 30 days of a patient being admitted to the hospital, the national average being 0.97.
Commenting on the figures, Dr Rod Harvey, medical director for NHS Highland, said: ‘Having overseen a detailed external case note review, I can reassure patients, public and staff that I am confident about the quality of clinical care being provided at the Belford Hospital.
‘We have carried out a very thorough review using nationally established methodology. The review was conducted by experienced clinicians from outside the hospital. The review backs up the findings from other routine work carried out by local staff who, as part of good practice, have always reviewed deaths in the hospital.
‘Having ruled out the possibility that there are any common themes that could have contributed to the increased number of deaths that were observed, we are continuing our investigations to determine what may account for the recent shift in the HSMR.
‘This may be caused by several factors, such as more people being admitted for planned end of life care and details of the diagnostic coding which directly informs the calculation of the HSMR. The plan is to have our investigations completed by mid-September.’
Due to the low volume of activity in a small hospital such as the Belford, small natural variations in the numbers of people who die following admission, despite optimal care, can have a big impact on the calculated HSMR.