During my own investigations around Ward 87, I found out that the death rate ie mortality rate had never been recorded. Essentially, no one knows whether the death rate was statistically better or worse than a similar average ward in the same or different Trust. This example is extrapolated to the subject of Dr Harold Shipman. We all ask ourselves the question - why wasn't he caught sooner? Well, if the Shipman Inquiry is read in detail, you will find that he worked at a number of hospitals. According to the Department of Health document below, recording death rates isn't compulsory therefore there would not have been any death rate statistics monitoring in any wards within these hospitals. There is a reason why the mortality rate is not recorded. The Labour Government does not want poor standards of care to be detected. This is quite a convenient means to deny the existence of poor standards of care.
In summary, if there are no mortality statistics, there will not be a way of early detection of poor care, mismanagement or the next Harold Shipman.
Just to say Dame Janet Smith missed this basic point in her Shipman Inquiry review.
DE00000364718 [ Department of Health]
Dear Dr Pal,
Thank you for your further email of 6 November to the Department of Health about mortality rates. I have been asked to reply on this occasion. I can confirm that there is no regulation or law requiring individual hospital wards to calculate patient death rates. I hope this reply clarifies the Department’s position.
Customer Service Centre
Department of Health