POLITICS
16/07/2013 15:21 BST | Updated 16/07/2013 16:21 BST

Jeremy Hunt: 'Thousands More Died Than Expected' In NHS Hospitals

Thousands more patients may have died than would be expected at 14 trusts investigated over high mortality rates, the Health Secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt told MPs that 11 of the trusts would be put into "special measures" for "fundamental breaches of care" and external experts will be sent in to help improve patient care.

All 14 trusts have been ordered to act on recommendations made by health officials.

The review found that none of the hospitals investigated was providing "consistently high quality care to patients".

Mr Hunt told MPs: "No statistics are perfect but mortality rates suggest that since 2005 thousands more people may have died that would normally be expected at the 14 trusts reviewed.

"Worryingly, in half of those trusts, the Care Quality Commission - the regulator specifically responsible for patient safety and care - failed to spot any real cause for concern, rating them as 'compliant' with basic standards."

He said that at some trusts "failure or mediocrity" was "deeply entrenched".

The review, led by NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, slammed some of the trusts for serious care failings.

Mr Hunt added: "In some cases, trust boards were shockingly unaware of problems discovered by the review teams."

He said the trusts will all be inspected again within the next 12 months by the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards.

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Sir Bruce's review found examples across many of the hospitals of professional and geographic isolation, failure to act on information that showed cause for concern and an absence of a "culture of openess".

Specific examples included patients being left on trolleys, unmonitored for "excessive periods" and then being "talked down" to by consultants.

Other examples included poor maintenance in operating theatres, potentially putting patients in danger. Patients were often moved repeatedly between wards without being told why, his review found.

Other areas of concern highlighted included staff working 12 days in a row without a break and low levels of clinical cover, especially out of hours.

Sir Bruce said: "Not one of these trusts has been given a clean bill of health by my review teams.

"These reviews have been highly rigorous and uncovered previously undisclosed problems.

"I felt it was crucial to provide a clear diagnosis, to write the prescription and, most importantly, to identify what help these organisations might need to support their recovery or accelerate improvement.

"Mediocrity is simply not good enough and based on the findings from the review I have set out an achievable ambition which will help these hospitals improve dramatically over the next two years."