Local Health Boards in Wales have today (21 March) published hospital mortality data on their websites.
The Welsh Government's five-year vision for the NHS in Wales, Together for Health, makes a clear commitment to excellence and to real improvements in the availability of information.
The data, known as the Risk Adjusted Mortality Index (RAMI), is also available via links from the Welsh Government website.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford welcomed the move and said:
"The Welsh Government is committed to transparency on performance and to improving access to NHS information. As from today, anyone in Wales can view a measure of hospital mortality data on Local Health Board and Welsh Government websites.
"The data published today add to a range of information available to help us assess the quality of our care.
"However, while it provides useful information, it should not be viewed in isolation as a measure of the quality of hospital care. We must use this information to drive up the quality of our care.'
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Chris Jones said:
"Only through a mortality case note review can it be determined whether a patient's death may be associated with poor care. Since 2010, Health Boards have made vast improvements to how they review deaths in hospitals, to ensure there is a real understanding of the quality of care.
"RAMI data is affected by a number of factors including age, place of death, deprivation and the data collection systems from patient records to ensure they accurately reflect the diagnosis and treatment.
"A higher than average number of 'expected deaths' should not be interpreted as the number of 'avoidable deaths'. Mortality data must, however, act as a trigger to review areas where deaths are higher than expected.
"There are some concerns about the quality and consistency of the data provided by Health Boards to the RAMI system, and this is an area in which we want to see improvements. The need to improve the timeliness and accuracy of data collection is well understood by Chief Executives and their boards. Health Boards have plans in place to meet the standards required."
"Given the complexities of mortality measurements we will be looking at whether we need to develop an official mortality measure tailored specifically to the NHS in Wales."
This statistical article below contributes to the understanding of mortality statistics and supports a public debate on the future of hospital mortality statistics in Wales.
Mortality statistics in Wales (Welsh Government site)