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Regulator raises ‘serious concerns’ over hospital's death rates

By Nigel Praities

High mortality rates at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are to be investigated after the health and social care regulator highlighted ‘serious concerns' with conditions at the trust.

The move comes despite the trust being rated as ‘excellent' by regulators last year - and has raised fears that the problems identified recently in Staffordshire were not an isolated case.

Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, has told the Basildon hospitals to take ‘immediate action' to address its concerns over rising mortality rates.

The Care Quality Commission has also issued a warning regarding the conditions in A&E, the care of children and breaches of infection control standards at the trust.

The foundation trust now has to appoint an external taskforce to overhaul the trust and report to Monitor on improvements at its hospitals.

Cynthia Bower, CQC chief executive, said: ‘Our work has uncovered serious failings. The trust has high mortality rates for emergency admissions and we have found evidence of significant problems in different parts of the organisation.'

‘We want rapid progress and we will work with Monitor to ensure this happens, carrying out spot checks where necessary,' she said.

In 2008/9 Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was rated as excellent for the quality of its services – including cleanliness and patient safety – by the Healthcare Commission.

Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said he was ‘extremely disturbed' by the news.

'It is unforgiveable if any lives have been needlessly lost. When the appalling standards of care at Stafford Hospital were revealed we were assured by Labour Ministers that it was 'an isolated case'; that sort of complacency is simply not good enough,' he said.

Hospital standards across the NHS have come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the Staffordshire investigation Hospital standards across the NHS have come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the Staffordshire investigation

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