UK patients at higher risk of death than US patients

Of the 7 most developed countries in the world, the UK has one of the highest mortality rates. Professor Sir Brian Jarman of the Imperial College London has now published findings from a study into mortality rates which drew upon a decades worth of data, finding that NHS mortality rates were higher than in other countries.

The statistics reveal that patients being treated in US hospitals for example are 45% less likely to die in hospital than patients being treated on the NHS are. Indeed, NHS rates compared unfavourably with many other developed nations as well.

A patient being treated for pneumonia in the United Kingdom is 500% more likely to die from the condition than a patient in the US. Furthermore, patients with septicaemia are 200% more likely to die in the UK than US judging from the figures.

Despite the concerning 45% figure it does mark an improvement since 2004 when the death rate in NHS hospitals was 58% higher than the country with the strongest statistics.

The NHS is still far behind where Department of Health officials and indeed the public would like it to be despite widespread reforms to the health service and tough new measures to combat failing hospitals.

Whilst six other countries and their wealth services were involved in the study, only the US been named due to the need for discretionary use of the data.

A medic by trade, Professor Sir Brian who collated and analysed the data made sure to account for differences in the nature of the health services in different countries He admitted to being reluctant to release the data at first due to the shocking nature of the conclusions drawn believing that he may have made an error someone in the process.

However, the validity of the evidence cannot be questioned and Professor Sir Brian suggests that the co-operation between staff in the US may explain their favourable figures. Their doctors and nurses tend to have more interaction and nurses are also able to give patient feedback to doctors. By contrast, in the NHS, the formal written system for analysing complaints only leads to a full investigation once in every 375 cases.

The NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has already expressed his concern that a number of patients may die if the improvements are not made urgently. Indeed, Keogh already carried out his own review into the NHS leading to 11 hospitals being placed in ‘special measures’ of the 14 identified as having high mortality rates.

Part of the problem is that warnings about high HS death rates have been ignored too readily in the past.

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