HEALTH chiefs believe they can slash the number of deaths at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals by 150 this year.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) said dozens more lives will be saved by minimising delays and using detailed checklists which spell out exactly how some patients should be cared for.

So-called ‘care bundles’, for certain conditions such as heart failure and stroke, are still in the process of being rolled out across the NHS, but experts said they will dramatically reduce hospital death rates.

A major recruitment drive has also boosted staffing numbers at ELHT, with more than 250 nurses and healthcare assistants drafted in since last summer.

The trust has been in special measures since July, after NHS chief Sir Bruce Keogh made wide-ranging criticisms of the way it had been run.

This came after concerns were raised over one of the trust’s mortality ratios - a statistical measure which suggested that more than 300 more patients had died in a year than was expected.

The trust will use the mortality ratios and crude death rate figures to measure the number of extra lives saved, with the aim of avoiding 150 deaths in 2014/15. Dr Ian Stanley, interim executive medical director, said: “This will be achieved by making sure that patients get the right care at the right time.

“This will involve a greater uptake of care bundles, re-design of care pathways and ensuring that we minimise delays in access to care and delivery of care.

“For example, four hours for emergency department patients, quicker access to stroke wards for stroke patients and administration of key drugs (especially antibiotics).

“It will also involve greater work with the community and primary care to ensure that patients who do not need to be admitted will be managed in the most appropriate environment.”