COLCHESTER General Hospital had 345 more deaths than was expected last year, according to research.

Data from NHS Digital has revealed how many deaths were recorded at 130 trusts in 2018.

During that time the Colchester hospital trust merged with Ipswich to become the East Suffolk and North Essex trust.

The new trust was found to have one of the 11 highest rates of “excess deaths” between January and December.

The expected deaths at each hospital trust is worked out by calculating how many deaths the trust would have if they had the English 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.

At Colchester General Hospital 2,450 deaths were recorded, when it had only “expected” 2,105.

It means there were 345 more deaths than expected.

The figures for the whole trust showed 4,585 were recorded and 4,035 had been expected.

This means there were 550 more deaths than expected.

In 2017 the Colchester trust was also found to have higher than expected death rates.

The trust’s chief medical officer, Angela Tillett, said: “We are committed to learning any lessons that have arisen from any aspect of care that has caused a patient harm or resulted in their death.

“We constantly review the quality of care we provide to all of our patients and the period in question was particularly difficult as we experienced one of the worst winters for many years.

“We recognise that we have a higher proportion of elderly people in certain areas who have multiple conditions which can worsen in the cold weather.

“We are working closely with our GP and community partners to support our patients with long term conditions and in providing end of life care according to the patient’s wishes.”

Across the 11 trusts with above expected rates there were around 3,600 more deaths than expected.

Chiefs nationally warn the data is only a “smoke alarm” and only warrants the need for

further investigations to examine the cause of the excess deaths.