MORE people have died at Dorset County Hospital than expected, new figures show.

Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust saw 1,132 deaths in 2017, compared to an expected 994.

The figures come from the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) which provides NHS trusts with an indication of how many deaths might be expected as a proportion of the number of patients admitted to hospital.

This indicator includes deaths occurring during a stay at a trust or within 30 days of discharge, providing an indication of whether the overall number of deaths at a particular trust was ‘lower than expected’, ‘as expected’ or ‘higher than expected’ when compared to the national baseline.

The gap between the number of deaths and the expected number was 11.2 per cent higher than expected, based on averages adjusted for the characteristics of the local area, which were significant, a potential warning that conditions at the trust may be unsafe and which should trigger further investigation.

Joyce Guest, chairman of Healthwatch Dorset, said the figures were “troubling.”

She added: “Local people need to be able to trust their NHS. The hospital can’t run the risk of these figures getting worse year on year, they need to investigate the cause, share their findings and take some action.”

In 2017, there were approximately nine million discharges, from which 294,000 deaths were recorded either while in hospital or within 30 days of discharge for the 144 hospital trusts covered across the UK.

This included deaths from other causes as well as deaths related to the reason for the hospital admission.

However, the NHS has said that high SHMI rate should not immediately be interpreted as indicating poor performance from a trust stressing that it was a signal for trusts to understand why it is high, and investigate any problems in care.

They added that patient safety was a top priority and stressed that they worked closely with trusts to help spot emerging issues and areas for improvement.

A spokesman for Dorset County Hospital said: “Dorset County Hospital’s SHMI is currently higher than expected and we are working closely with NHS Improvement, the Care Quality Commission, Dorset CCG and our internal Coding Department to ensure we correct our data issues to reflect the true SHMI position.

“Alongside this, to ensure our care is safe and our standards high, we undertake regular reviews of individual deaths and regularly assess statistics relating to death to ensure we deliver the highest quality of patient care.”

The figures come after a separate report was released by the Institute for Public Policy Research report titled ‘End of Life Care in England’ which found that one in three people who die in hospital could spend their final days at home with better community-based health provision.

Report author Jack Hunter said: ”The fact that those living in the most deprived areas are more likely to die in hospital is wholly unjust.”

He added: “Where you live should not affect your end-of-life care.”

“Enabling more people to spend the end of their lives outside hospitals, in more appropriate settings, with properly funded support in place, will improve their experience of care. It will also be more cost effective for the taxpayer.”