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WHHT’s mortality rates lower than expected for the second year running!

25 May 2016, Sarah Newall, Communications

Our Trust has been recognised as one of 44 hospitals in England to have a ‘lower than expected’ mortality rate in 2015.

Picture of Dr Mike van der Watt, Medical Director of West Hertfordshire Hospitals

The statistics, announced by the Healthcare Intelligence Specialist Dr Foster relate to the “Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio”, a sophisticated measure which compares the number of patients who die in a hospital with the number who would be expected to do so.

The report covers 136 hospitals nationally, of which West Hertfordshire’s hospitals; Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford, are one of 44 in the best performing group. Some 24 trusts had a ‘higher than expected’ mortality rate, with the remaining 68 having an ‘expected’ rate.

Our rate has dropped from ‘statistically higher than expected’ to ‘statistically lower than expected’ over the last four years, and for the last two we have seen ‘lower than expected’ rates. See the table below.

Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio over the last 4 years
Trend (Calendar Year) HSMR Banding
Jan 2012 - Dec 2012 110.03 Statistically significantly higher than expected
Jan 2013 - Dec 2013 104.41 As expected
Jan 2014 - Dec 2014 90.39 Statistically significantly lower than expected
Jan 2015 - Dec 2015 87.57 Statistically significantly lower than expected

Dr Mike van der Watt, Medical Director of West Hertfordshire Hospitals (pictured) said:

“This is extremely pleasing news. Reducing death rates is the result of multiple streams of work to improve patient safety, all coming together. We have also invested in more consultants, nurses and midwives, strengthened governance processes and have established a Hospital at Night Team, in partnership with an ITU Outreach Team. Monthly reviews of all deaths have allowed early intervention when required, and learning to be disseminated quickly.

“We have moved from being in the worst 10% of hospitals to be in the company of some of the best hospitals in this country, with a statistically "lower than expected" mortality on both weekdays and weekends. We know we have more work to do and will continue to work with our partners to improve things even more.”

A spokesperson for Dr Foster, the organisation which publishes the statistics said:

“Measuring hospital performance is complex. Dr Foster understands that complexity and is clear that HSMRs should not be used in isolation, but rather considered with a basket of other indicators that give a well-rounded view of hospital quality and activity. Many explanations can lie behind increases in mortality rates.”


  1. For more information, please contact Sarah Newall, Communications in the Trust’s Communications department on telephone: 01923 436 280 or email: info@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228 031.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three sites at Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals and sees about 600,000 patients a year. We are one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.