LONDON: Patients are dying at a higher than expected rate at 19 hospital trusts in England, a health information body said on Sunday, raising concerns about the consistency of care across the National Health Service.
Dr Foster, an NHS partner organisation that collates and analyses healthcare data, said two of the hospitals also had unusually high levels of patient death after surgery.
But it said the overall picture was improving compared to 12 months ago when 27 out of England's 147 hospital trusts were found to have unexpectedly high patient death rates.
Hospital inspectors use the data as an early warning of wider problems in medical care.
The high mortality rate discovered at Stafford Hospital in the English midlands sparked an investigation in 2008 that found "horrific" levels of care and led to the departure of senior managers.
However, the two hospitals identified in Dr Foster's latest survey as having unusually high patient and post-surgery mortality defended their records.
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust said its catchment area had one of England's highest rates for smoking and alcohol abuse, while also having few hospice places, meaning that a higher than average number of patients died in its wards.
University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) said the Dr Foster analysis was "fundamentally flawed" and did not accurately reflect the quality of care it provided.
"We believe there is a risk that figures like these could cause unnecessary confusion and distress amongst patients and are a distraction to concentrating on providing the best in care for our patients," said UHB medical director Dave Rosser.
Rosser said inspectors at the Care Quality Commission were also satisfied the hospital's mortality rate was not a concern.
But Dr Foster research director Roger Taylor said UHB's high mortality was worrying and warranted further investigation.
"Birmingham is ... one of our major teaching centres in the country. In general those types of hospitals tend to have some of the best outcomes. So it is particularly worrying that a hospital like Birmingham should have such high death rates," Taylor told Sky News.
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