Clean bill of health for Sheffield’s hospitals

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital
The Royal Hallamshire Hospital
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SHEFFIELD’S hospitals have one of the lowest rates of cancelled operations in the country – but patients are spending too long on the wards after surgery, a new report has found.

The report said Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also had lower than expected death rates, but recorded a high number of readmissions within 28 days of people being discharged.

Sheffield's Royall Hallamshire Hospital

Sheffield's Royall Hallamshire Hospital

The figures were published in the Dr Foster Good Hospital Guide 2012, which assesses health trusts across the UK on their performance during the last 12 months.

Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said he was ‘delighted’ with the results, but promised staff would try to cut the length of time patients stay in hospital.

The guide found just 1.7 per cent of scheduled operations were cancelled in Sheffield, putting the organisation in the top five performing trusts in the country.

Deaths following hospital treatment are ranked using the ‘summary hospital-level mortality indicator’. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals scored 92 on this scale, lower than expected.

Similar scales are used to rank the number of elderly patients staying longer than expected – Sheffield scored 36.4, against a national rate of 29. The number of long-stay surgical patients was also worse than expected.

Sir Cash said: “Every one of our 15,000 hospital and community-based staff play a part in ensuring we continue to deliver a high standard of healthcare to patients and it is their hard work and dedication which has resulted in the excellent results.

“However, we are never complacent and continue to take every opportunity to further improve both the care we provide and the experience patients have when they visit our hospitals.”

He added: “We do not want patients to spend any longer than medically necessary in hospital because we know they can become prone to infections or lose independence if they are older.

“We have already made significant improvements in many areas.”

He said more than £1million had been invested in extra community health support, aimed at preventing people from attending hospital unnecessarily, and a new unit at the Northern General Hospital provides urgent care for frail patients.

Meanwhile, in Barnsley and Rotherham there was a higher rate of deaths following hospital treatment than in Sheffield.

But the report found there was a ‘notable increase’ in staff numbers in Rotherham, where there are now at least two additional members of senior staff per bed.

In Doncaster a higher than expected number of patients died in hospital.

There were also more readmissions within a week than expected, but patients left hospital earlier than the national average.

Sewa Singh, medical director at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said they had implemented a ‘robust action plan’ which had led to a ‘significant improvement’ this year.

CANCELLED OPERATIONS National average 3.1 per cent

Sheffield – 1.7 per cent

Barnsley – 3.0 per cent

Rotherham – 2.6 per cent

Doncaster – 3.3 per cent

EXCESS BED DAYS –

National average 11.1

Sheffield – 14.8

Barnsley – 8.3

Rotherham – 8.3

Doncaster – 7.1