• Patients are less likely to die in the bigger, busier hospital units where surgical teams are more skilled because they do more of the operations. The results strongly suggest that smaller units should close. This presents a major challenge to the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, who has stopped all hospital reorganisation.
Some leading surgeons believe that for best results, a hospital needs to carry out at least 50 AAA operations a year. Yet very many hospitals across the UK see less than 20 cases a year. Dartford and Gravesham had just five in three years, Mid-Staffordshire had nine and Scarborough had 14. Of the 116 hospitals that gave the Guardian data, 35 did fewer than 20 operations a year and 76 did fewer than 50.
Guardian on disparity in NHS death rates