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11 February 2013, 19:40 | Updated: 11 February 2013, 19:49
Nine hospital trusts are to be investigated over their mortality rates including three in the West Midlands
The NHS Commissioning Board's medical director Sir Bruce Keogh is to investigate:
The Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) measures deaths while patients are in hospital. The mortality indicator is based on 56 conditions that account for 80% of deaths. The NHS Commissioning Board said that they were ''outliers'' for two years running.
Health experts said that high mortality ratios should act as a ''smoke alarm'' so NHS organisations can examine whether there are any underlying problems.
Dr Craig Stenhouse, medical director at Burton Hospitals, said: ''We welcome this opportunity of a review from independent sources regarding how our hospital is performing and believe it is of fundamental importance that these issues are openly and thoroughly investigated.
''The trust has already identified areas where there may be a higher than expected mortality and has taken proactive measures to review these services.''
The Dudley Group chief executive Paula Clark said that current independent analysis shows that the trust is in the ''expected range'' for mortality ratios.
''Indeed the overall number of deaths continues to decline against the backdrop of an ageing population with complex health needs,'' she added.
She continued: ''We take mortality indices very seriously and use them as a flag for further reviews of our care practices. This is one of a number of tools we use to assure ourselves of the quality of our care.''
George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust's chief executive Kevin McGee added: ``We've made significant improvements to our mortality rates over the past year and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our successes to Professor Keogh's team and the wider public.''