Six of the 14 NHS trusts which were investigated last year by the NHS Medical Director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, remain a cause for concern for their apparently high death rates.

Both Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust had been placed in special measures following the investigation. Now both NHS trusts, along with four others, are under further examination following recently published data which revealed further patients had died during their admissions to hospital or shortly after discharge.

The data was supplied by the summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI) which reveals whether trusts are above or below the average number of deaths among patients. Both Colchester and East Lancashire, along with Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation, Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool and Wye Valley NHS Trust in Herefordshire were found to have “higher than expected” mortality rates according to the data.

The data used considers the numbers of patients who die while an inpatient in hospital and those who die within 30 days of being discharged. The SHMI provides a ratio between the average number of patients expected to die in hospital or shortly after discharge with the actual number of patients from any particular Trust.

The NHS’s Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) commented that the new data should not be taken “as a standalone verdict on a hospital trust’s performance”.

According to the new data, 17 trusts have a “lower than expected” SHMI ratio - up from 16 last year - while nine trusts have a “higher than expected” SHMI ratio, two more than last year.

Commenting on the data, Emily Palmer, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, notes: “It is worrying that the number of preventable hospital deaths in some trusts, both in relation to inpatients and those recently discharged, continue to be high. It is especially alarming to see these trends in hospitals which are already under special measures and that the number of trusts with a “higher than expected” ratio of death has risen compared to last year.