DEATH rates at Basildon Hospital have dropped to “normal” levels for the first time.

More staff, more beds and a new policy to ensure sufficient staffing at weekends and on bank holidays have led to a reduction in mortality rates.

Shockingly high numbers of deaths were one of the reasons the hospital was put in special measures.

However, hospital chief executive Clare Panniker believes the hospital has now turned a corner.

She said: “This is a crucial indicator to show all we have done is working.

“It’s really reassuring for the public, and we think it will improve further.”

Both mortality indicators, used nationally to compare hospitals, prove the hospital has improved its death rates.

The good news comes just days before the Care Quality Commission is due to inspect the hospital again to consider taking it out of special measures.

Ms Panniker is confident things are about to change. She added: “We were put in special measures due to our paediatrics, mortality rates, governance, A&E and 18- week waiting times.

“We are not worried about any of those now.

“We have increased staffing, beds, and are reducing cardiac arrests, and that’s all helped.

“We have a focus on seven-day working, with more staff in at a weekend.

“All patients are seen within 12 hours in A&E. All those things are measures that can point to a reduction of deaths.”