THE NHS trust responsible for Leighton Hospital has been found to have ‘higher than expected’ death rates in a new report.

The NHS’s Health and Social Care Information Centre named Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MCHFT) as one of six trusts exhibiting unusually high death rates in 2012-13, according to the summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI).

The SHMI is the ratio between the actual number of patients who die following treatment at the trust, and the number that would be expected to die on the basis of average England figures, given the characteristics of the patients treated there.

It is used by data analyst company, Dr Foster, to compile its influential Hospital Guide each year.

MCHFT said a date recording issue, which they say is acknowledged by the HSCIC, had caused the indicator to ‘spike’.

A spokesman for MCHFT, which also runs the Victoria Infirmary, Northwich and Winsford’s Elmhurst Intermediate Care Centre, said: “The trust has been working closely with the HSCIC to understand this data, and their independent external review has concluded that a data recording issue caused the SHMI to spike in July 2011 into the higher than expected category.

“The trust’s own calculations indicate that when the data recording issue is addressed, the trust is once again back in the ‘as expected’ rating and this has been validated by the HSCIC.

“Unfortunately, due to the time lag involved in the publication of this data, the figures published may take up to two years to accurately portray the trust’s true position.”

The spokesman added: “The Trust would like to reassure patients that it is committed to providing the highest possible standards of patient safety and quality of care, and work is already ongoing to make improvements in all areas, particularly in relation to staffing levels and mortality.”