More patients are dying than expected at eleven NHS trusts across England, official statistics revealed today.
NHS Digital, which released the report, collected figures from all 130 hospital trusts between January and December last year.
Data showed around 3,600 more patients died than predicted after spending time in hospitals ran by the 11 trusts.
The NHS argues the statistics are only a ‘smoke alarm’. However, five of the trusts were also named and shamed last year.
One of them – Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – has been on the worst offending list every year since 2011.
Officials collect the data using a statistical model to highlight the gulf in deaths between trusts.
A similar process helped uncover poor care at the Mid Staffordshire trust, one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the NHS.
There were around 9.2million discharges, from which there were 293,000 recorded deaths either while in hospital or within 30 days of discharge.
This includes deaths from other causes as well as deaths related to the reason for the hospital admission, NHS Digital says.
The NHS states it is ‘inappropriate’ for trusts to be ranked on their SHMI, and that an excess death count only warrants the need for further investigations.
Some 103 trusts reported no excess deaths, and 16 of them even reported a lower number of fatalities than expected.
The data shows slightly less than a twelfth, or 8.5 per cent, of NHS trusts reported higher than expected deaths.
However, the overall figure is lower than last year, when 9.7 per cent of trusts showed higher than expected deaths.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, which runs one large hospital and two smaller ones, serves around 330,000 people.
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Dorset County Hospital NHS FT all also appeared last year.
Colchester Hospital University NHS FT, which now exists as East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT following a merger, also appeared last year.
NHS Digital releases its Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator, or SHMI, data every summer for the previous year.
But renowned experts have previously warned about the statistical method used to collate the figures and label the trusts with excess deaths.
The NHS does not use the internationally recognised system, recommended by the Association of Public Health Observatories, called Byar’s confidence intervals.
Instead, it uses another method, called overdispersion, which gives trusts slightly more leeway in terms of recording deaths.
Under that system, a trust is regarded as having a higher than expected number of deaths only if its SHMI is about 12 per cent or more above the national average.
In contrast, the Byar’s method is much stricter, classing anything with a SHMI of more than six or seven per cent above the national average as significantly high.
Expected deaths at each trust is worked out by calculating how many deaths the trust would have, according to national average death rates.
The death rate is then calculated by dividing the actual deaths following time in hospital by the expected deaths for the time in hospital.
Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS FT told MailOnline it has implemented a number of initiatives covering every area of the hospital to address mortality figures.
It added that internal work is ‘ongoing’ and it has focused on improving treatment within the first 24 hours of admission.
And it added that Blackpool is one of the most deprived areas in England with the lowest male life expectancy figure in the country.
The town also has higher than average deaths related to alcohol, smoking, drug use and heart disease, and instance of HIV and depression are high.
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘These figures are not a measure of quality of care and don’t on their own show that individual hospitals are performing better or worse than they should be. This is just one tool to help staff identify areas for improvement.’