A practical method for monitoring general practice mortality in the UK - findings from a pilot study in a health board of Northern Ireland

Mohammed Mohammed, K Booth, D Marshall, M Brolly, Tom Marshall, Kar Cheng, M Hayes, S Fitzpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The Baker report into Dr Harold Shipman's murders recommended monitoring mortality in general practice, but there is currently no practical method available to implement this. AIM: To monitor mortality rates in response to the Baker report and to use the data to improve quality of care.Design of study: Prospective mortality monitoring study. SETTING: Eastern Health and Social Services Board, Northern Ireland. METHOD: Linked quarterly mortality data from 1994-2001 were compiled for 114 general practices in Eastern Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland. Cross-sectional control charts compared crude and adjusted mortality rates across all the practices. Longitudinal control charts analysed quarterly mortality rates over 28 quarters within each practice. Practices were sent their own control charts and invited to feedback workshops. Special cause variation in mortality was investigated as follows: checks on data, case-mix, practice structures, processes of care and finally individual carers. RESULTS: Age, sex and deprivation adjusted cross-sectional control charts identified 18 practices as showing special cause variation in their mortality (11 high and 7 low). Assignable causes were found for all high special cause practices: large numbers of nursing home patients (six practices), very high levels of deprivation and high morbidity not captured by our case-mix adjustment (five practices). For three of seven low special cause practices, case-mix adjustment underestimated affluence and overestimated morbidity levels. Feedback indicated widespread support for the principle of monitoring, but concerns about the public disclosure of mortality data. CONCLUSIONS: We have successfully developed and piloted a general practice mortality monitoring system with the support and participation of local stakeholders. This used control charts for analysis and followed a scientific strategy for investigating special cause variation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-676
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number518
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2005


  • monitoring
  • control charts
  • mortality
  • general practice


Dive into the research topics of 'A practical method for monitoring general practice mortality in the UK - findings from a pilot study in a health board of Northern Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this