INFORMATION about the number of deaths and hospital performance in the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB) has now been published.

The UHB has been regularly publishing mortality data, a measure of the number of deaths, for the last year and has now added other information to the suite of data it provides to reassure itself and the public over standards and safety at its hospitals.

Dr Graham Shortland, the health board’s medical director, said a range of checks and balances were in place to monitor performance and said that the cases of more than 1,000 patients who had died in hospital had been reviewed to provide extra assurance.

He said: “The Keogh Report has reinforced the importance of good quality data, continuous review and reporting and the need to do this in an open and transparent way.

“We are pleased to continue and expand on the data that we are publishing. Whilst these indicators can be useful they will not tell the whole story.

"Recently the Office of National Statistics has questioned the appropriateness of relying on a single measure.

“That is why we carry out a range of other measures and over the last few years have reviewed the notes of hundreds of patients who have died in hospital to reassure ourselves and others that the services we are providing are safe.”

Dr Shortland added that the case reviews had highlighted the need to improve the handover of patients between clinical teams and to better support patients needing end of life care.

He added that improvement work was already underway in many areas including new tools to quickly identify deteriorating patients.

Case note reviews are just one of a number of tools doctors and clinical teams use to monitor quality and safety. These also include:

· Patient safety visits to front-line areas by Board members.

· Patient stories and surveys capturing how it feels to be a patient in the UHB.

· Review of patient concerns, particularly when there are common problems being reported.

· Divisional reports about local quality and safety issues which are routinely reviewed by the Board's Quality and Safety Committee.

· Reports of accidents, near misses, errors and safety problems reported by clinical teams.

· Bench-marking a wide range of data against similar hospitals so we can compare how we are doing and identify areas to follow up.

· Reports of and proceedings at Coroner’s inquests.

· Routine and randomised systematic medical records reviews led by the Medical Director looking for examples of good practice and potential problems.

· We also use and report on internationally validated tools for reviewing records which provides us with a mechanism for measuring potentially harmful events.

Dr Chris Jones, Wales’ Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: “The publication today (March 21) of a new range of mortality data highlights the difficulty in using it to judge the quality of care provided in Welsh hospitals.

“We need to be looking at much more than a single figure to make a judgment about the quality of care patients receive, which is why my taskforce has recommended developing a basket of measures.

“We strongly believe we can learn more from reviewing the care provided to individual patients. This is why, during the last year, we have introduced a clinical review of case notes for all patients who died in hospital. Wales is the only UK country with such an approach.”