COLCHESTER Hospital Trust remains in the spotlight over “higher than expected” death rates in the latest report to be realised.

Over the past few years the university trust has come under increasing scrutiny for its Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator [SHMI], which measures the number of hospital deaths and those that occurred within 30 days of treatment against the national average.

In a report released today by the NHS's Health and Social Care Information Centre, Colchester General Hospital was named as one of six trusts for higher than expected death rates between July 2012 and June 2013.

In January last year it was also been named in a previous report which looked at deaths between July 2011 and June 2012.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We take the issue of SHMI extremely serious and because it includes deaths within 30 days of discharge from hospital continue to work closely with partner organisations, such as North East Essex CCG, to make improvements. There has been a small reduction in this particular mortality indicator.

“The other main mortality measure, HSMR – Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio – measures only deaths that occur in our hospitals and for the past few years our HSMR score has been ‘within the expected range’.

“The number of deaths at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital continues to fall year-on-year even though we are seeing more patients.

“For example, there were 103 few deaths in 2013 than 2012, a reduction of 7 per cent.

“We remain committed to take every possible step to prevent avoidable deaths.”