§ Mr. Hoban
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the research undertaken by University College, London., and Columbia University, New York, into the relative death rates between the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and Mount Sinai Hospital, Manhattan. 104WS
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 15 September 2003]: The research study reported that a comparison between two cohorts of patients undergoing major surgery between August 1996 and May 1998 showed 'risk-adjusted' death rates for major surgery in Portsmouth Hospitals that were approximately four times higher than Mount Sinai Hospital in the United States.
Considerable caution should be exercised over these findings. There is insufficient information in the research paper to be sure that the two hospitals (in Portsmouth and New York) are truly comparable in terms of their patient mix. As the researchers acknowledge, conclusions about national differences cannot be properly based on a comparison between just one hospital in each country. Also, the number of critical care beds in the national health service has significantly increased since these patients were studied during 1996–98 and this is likely to mean that the mortality rates for Portsmouth found in the study would not be applicable today. For example, the Commission for Health Improvement 2002 performance ratings for Portsmouth had a 28 day post surgical death rate of 4.5 per cent., for patients admitted as emergencies. However, we recognise that there may be some lessons to be learned from this research, despite its limitations.