HOSPITALS will have their death rates for a range of conditions, including heart attack and stroke, published by the Department of Health today for the first time.
The long-awaited report will be based on data collected from hospitals - which will be individually named - and is being seen as a first stage in providing more information to the public on mortality rate league tables.
Experts point out the biggest hospitals which traditionally have the sickest patients tend to have the highest number of deaths; but different factors need to be taken into account, such as how old the patient was, how advanced was their illness, what treatment they were on and at what stage their illness was diagnosed.
Meanwhile, Social Care Minister Kathleen Lynch said she will act soon to prevent electric shock treatment being administered to a psychiatric patient who refuses it. This follows an expert group report, with 165 recommendations on mental health, aimed at modernising legislation which is published by the department today.
"I have instructed my officials to proceed, on the basis of the road map which this review provides, to draw up the general scheme of a Bill to reflect these changes in revised legislation," she said.
She intends to deal separately and within a shorter timeframe with a change in legislation regarding the use of electric shock treatment (ECT)
"At present, a course of ECT can be administered to a patient even if that patient has capacity and refuses such treatment. I believe that such a refusal of ECT treatment where a person has capacity must be respected, and I will bring forward early proposals in this regard."
The report says psychiatric patients who are detained against their will should be able to make an application before an independent panel within 14 days - down from 21 days.
The mental health tribunals which hear their cases should be renamed mental health review boards. And an order to renew the patient's detention should not be longer than for six months.
The report, which will inform changes to the 2001 Mental Health Act, says every effort must be made to respect decisions made by individuals with capacity who have mental health problems, said Ms Lynch.
She said that in the past the system has too often resorted to a "best interests approach" where other people make key decisions on behalf of those with "mental health problems."