THE Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has slammed cost-cutting measures in the region’s hospitals after it emerged an East Yorkshire NHS trust had higher than expected mortality rates.

The annual Doctor Foster Hospital Guide reveals that Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, had recorded 292 more deaths than expected in patients, within 30 days of being discharged.

Kevin Austerberry, the RCN’s regional director for Yorkshire, said hospitals were working to capacity and that the RCN had previously warned of the consequences.

He said: “It is no coincidence the NHS Trusts identified in this region as being most under pressure are also going through the process of cutting nursing posts or changing terms and conditions for staff as a way of saving money.

“This is happening just as local authorities and others involved in community care are also struggling to make savings, something that inevitably adds pressure on hospital services.”

The RCN also points out that the Hull and East Yorkshire Trust had permanently closed wards this year, downgraded nursing posts and was involved in negotiations about overtime payments.

The figures were not all bad news for patients in East Yorkshire. The report showed that the expected rate of death while in a trust hospital was 499 fewer this year than estimated.

Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at the Trust, said they had worked hard to improve the way in which they recorded information about patients, which could “affect mortality ratings significantly”.

She said: “Our latest mortality data sees us much improved on the Dr Foster figure and within the “as expected” range.

“We accept we still have a lot of work to do but I would like to pay tribute to all of our staff who have worked so hard to make a difference to the care we offer. We have always known that we provide safe, high quality care and we believe we will continue to show improvements in future reports.”