A FULL government inquiry into Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has been called for following fresh questions over an unusually high number of deaths – 150 more than expected – at Croydon University Hospital in 2007/08.
Croydon North MP Steve Reed said a full external inquiry is necessary to ensure no Mid Staffordshire-style "cover-up" has taken place and to answer allegations that several of the deaths could have been a result of catastrophic failings in care.
In 2010, the hospital's then chief executive, Nick Hulme, said the "vast majority" of deaths were down to "coding issues" – the same reason Mid Staffordshire, where 400-1,200 patients died due to poor care, originally gave for a high mortality rate.
He gave the reason in response to calls for a full government inquiry from Professor Sir Brian Jarman at the time.
However, in a subsequent 2012 NHS London report, Mr Hulme appears to have backtracked. The report states: "If talking retrospectively about [Croydon's] Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) he [Hulme] would support a full investigation and review of case notes and would not just state that these were attributable to coding errors."
The Advertiser contacted Mr Hulme but he refused to comment.
Mr Reed said the apparent shift raises fresh questions and renewed calls for a full Government inquiry.
He said: "I'm alarmed to learn that the hospital authorities have given no clear reason why there were so many more deaths in 2007/8 than would have been expected."
Mr Reed's comments come after Robert Francis QC, who released a report into Mid Staffordshire this week, suggested hiding information about poor care should be made a criminal offence.
A hospital spokesman said: "When numbers [of deaths] are unexpectedly high we carry out a detailed review of every case.
"The results of these investigations and any subsequent actions taken are reported to our board and to external agencies such as NHS London and the CQC."