Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals boss: 'We constantly look at ways to improve'
A HEALTH boss in East Yorkshire has defended his hospitals in the wake of the Mid-Staffordshire scandal.
Phil Morley says morality rates have been improving since concerns were raised in the Dr Foster report of 2011.
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust was once ranked as the tenth highest for mortality rates in the country, with 400 more patients dying than expected in a year.
This week, the full extent of the shocking abuse and neglect of patients in Staffordshire was revealed, when an inquiry found up to 1,200 patients could have died needlessly because of poor care.
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But now the Hull and East Yorkshire trust's chief executive, Mr Morley, has stressed mortality rates here have improved considerably and the "staff culture" blamed for some of the neglect at Stafford Hospital scandal does not exist at Hull Royal Infirmary or Castle Hill Hospital.
Mr Morley said: "We see about one million patients through our doors a year and last year we had 500 complaints.
"There have been times when we have done things wrong, failed to communicate and failed to deliver the care people wanted.
"But I meet as many patients and families as I can personally.
"We are constantly looking at ways to improve and do things differently to make sure we are treating human beings, not just illnesses.
"I know there are thousands of people that wouldn't be alive today if we hadn't made a difference and assisted as an organisation, but after the inquiry, we are being tarred with the same brush."
Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital have seen a decrease in the number of unexpected deaths.
A trust spokesman said: "The trust has seen its mortality rates decrease significantly over the past two years.
"The number of deaths in our hospitals are now rated 'as expected' for every indicator used by the Department of Health.
"We are expecting to see these come down even further over the next year."
The Francis report into Mid-Staffordshire said there needed to be a change of culture, putting patients at the top of the priority list.
Mr Morley said: "I don't think it is an NHS culture, it is a societal culture of 'someone else will fix it, it isn't my problem'.
"Our hospital is trying to be different and look at other things in a different way.
"We have 8,000 staff and the majority care very deeply about their patients.
"This winter and during the snow, I know of staff staying until 3am or 4am on days off in order to help out during pressured times.
"This isn't an indication of a culture of uncaring and not wanting to help, this is a culture of people who give a damn."
In the wake of the Mid-Staffordshire inquiry, it has been revealed a further five trusts will be investigated by NHS bosses for having high mortality rates.
The trusts under investigation are Basildon and Thurrock, Colchester, Tameside, Blackpool and East Lancashire.
Their mortality rates were measured under the SHMI (Summary Hospital-level Mortality Index).
This compares the number of patients who die following admission to hospital with the number who would be expected to die.
The SHMI data includes all deaths in hospital as well as deaths occurring 30 days after discharge.
It shows there were 879 more deaths than expected at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 618 at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, 599 more than expected at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, 508 at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and 459 at Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
In December 2012, the Mail revealed Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust's SHMI was 292, although later figures are expected to show it has dropped to 107.
Prime Minister David Cameron has now ordered an investigation into standards of care at the five trusts and others where death rates are persistently high.
A Hull trust spokesman said: "At present we have not been told whether we will face an inspection, however, we can reassure the population we serve that our latest figures show that we are not a trust that has high mortality rates."
The Francis inquiry has also raised concerns about wide divides between management and the nurses and doctors working on hospital wards.
The Department of Health says NHS leaders should be encouraged to listen to staff and hold listening events in light of the Mid-Staffordshire scandal.
Mr Morley told the Mail the trust has held 25 Big Conversation events for people to have their say on what could be made better and a new Link Listeners scheme has been set up.
Link Listeners have varying roles throughout the trust, from senior management to junior roles, and are a point of contact for other staff.
NHS staff can ask a Link Listener a question and they can pass on the enquiry to someone who will be able to come back with an answer.
Mr Morley said: "There is no complete answer to solve all the problems in the NHS.
"But it is clear that if you have great staff who care, you give great care. And we will continue to invest in our staff."
But Mr Morley was also keen to point out that, at 65 years old, the NHS is a pensioner and cannot be treated in the same way it once was.
He said: "By 2020 there will be two people for everyone aged 65 or over.
"That means fewer taxpayers and care workers looking after a larger population of elderly people. The public have to start taking more responsibility for their own health."