Call for probe into Rotherham bowel cancer deaths

AN MP has called for an inquiry after figures showed that death rates from bowel cancer operations at Rotherham General Hospital were five times greater than in Manchester.

Rotherham MP Denis MacShane raised concern after learning that the Rotherham mortality rate was 10.4 per cent compared to two per cent at one Manchester NHS trust and more than twice as high as York with 4.2 per cent.

The figures came from a report carried out by Yorkshire Cancer Research covering the period 1998 to 2006.

But health chiefs said this week that more recent data showed that the rate had “significantly improved.”

Dr MacShane has now written to Rotherham General Hospital NHS Trust chief executive Brian James urging him to carry out a review. He has also urged constituents to go for bowel check-ups.

He said: “I was concerned to see that Rotherham had markedly higher death rates after bowel cancer operations than Manchester or York.

“Even if the survey covers the 1998-2006 period before the final massive injection of cash into the NHS under Labour, the trend lines revealed constitute an alarming health statistic.

“I hope we can now see a full inquiry to get up-to-date figures and it is important that all cancer surgeons publish their results so we can see each year where hospitals are under-performing and take measures to bring standards up to the best.”

Professor Walid Al-Wali, medical director for the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said that more recent data for 2006 to 2008 showed that the trust’s 30-day post-operative mortality rates had significantly improved.

“Provisional 2009 data shows even more improvement,” he said. “We have in recent years invested significantly in developing and improving these services, however it is vital that we identify any issues that may still need to be addressed.

“The trust is therefore undertaking its own internal review in conjunction with the team responsible for delivering this service.

“We are committed to providing the best possible care for all our patients.”