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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > More lives now being saved across North Cumbria's hospitals

More lives now being saved across North Cumbria's hospitals

Posted on Tuesday 21st October 2014
the-heart-centre staff

More people across North Cumbria are living longer lives with much better clinical outcomes thanks to vital changes made by healthcare leaders at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.  

Improvements in the Trust’s mortality rate are a result of the many vital safety and quality changes made over the past 18 months at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. The improved mortality rate is now clear evidence that less people are dying in North Cumbria’s hospitals and more people are surviving serious injury or illness and going on to live longer lives with better outcomes following their stay in hospital.

Two years ago, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust was recorded as having one of the highest Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMR) in England and was visited in the summer of 2013 by a specialist review team as part of the national Keogh Review process.  Since then, and thanks to difficult but vital changes which have been implemented by clinicians, the Trust's overall HSMR has seen a sustained reduction and continues to decline.

Certain specialties have seen drastic reductions in the number of people dying in the past 18 months, including those suffering life threatening heart problems who are now treated by specialists at The Heart Centre in Carlisle, as well as those patients suffering broken hips, which can often prove fatal if not operated on very quickly.

Commenting on the improvements in mortality, Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said:

"Two years ago we were highlighted as having one of the highest mortality rates in England but the facts now speak very clearly for themselves. The difficult and important decisions we have taken to transfer certain patients from West Cumbria to Carlisle to make sure they get access to the best possible, safest care, is now firmly evidenced in our improved mortality data.

"Our teams have been through a lot of change in the past 18 months but it is down to their sheer dedication and commitment to make things better for our patients that we have not only saved more lives but also given patients a better chance of making a fuller recovery and going on to live longer and healthier lives.  This is something that each and every member of staff should be very proud of. 

"We are under no illusions, however, that there is still a long way for us to go on our improvement journey.  Our priority, quite understandably, was to focus first and foremost on fixing the very immediate problems related to mortality, but we still have much further to go to make the experience of care for our patients as good, if not better, than the best of the NHS."

Commenting on the mortality improvements, MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson said:

“The improvements that are being made are now clearly being evidenced through the reduction in the Trust’s mortality rate. This is testament to both the leadership team who have made these improvements and the staff on the wards who have implemented them.

"I appreciate that there is still more work to be done to improve our hospitals even further, however the continued reduction in mortality is good news. It is important that patient’s trust in our hospitals continues to be rebuilt and I am encouraged that the trend of a falling mortality rate continues.”

In June 2013,  care for all trauma and orthopaedic patients was centralised at The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle where dedicated surgeons, anaesthetists and full theatre teams are available 24/7 for  anyone needing emergency orthopaedic surgery.  

For the first time in July 2014, the Trust achieved the Department of Health's best practice guidance with 100% of hip fracture patients undergoing surgery within 36 hours of suffering their initial injury, something which has never happened before in north Cumbria and is widely proven to greatly improve recovery for patients.

In July 2013, care for all emergency cardiac patients was also centralised at The Heart Centre in Carlisle where patients can now undergo instant angioplasty treatment to unblock arteries in the heart.  Previously patients had to travel outside of the county to Newcastle or Middlesbrough for such lifesaving care.

In October 2013, all complex high risk surgery was also centralised at The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, making sure people get access to the right specialists sooner so that appropriate surgical care and treatment can begin quicker.

In January 2014, the Trust starting reviewing every single death that occurs in both hospitals to ensure that, where necessary, any possible improvements to patient care are made. 

All of these measures, have, without doubt, impacted positively on the successful reduction in mortality rates at North Cumbria and the Trust is now actively listening to all patient feedback, good and bad, to improve these pathways of care even further.