A hospital that saw a sudden leap in the number of patient deaths attributed to septicaemia had recorded the deaths wrongly, an inquiry has found.

An independent investigation at the Royal Bolton Hospital into the coding of 150 cases found that more than half “did not meet national standards”. Acting chief executive of the trust Dr Jackie Bene stepped aside while the inquiry was carried out. Dr Bene was the former medical director responsible for coding.

Septicaemia is a severe blood infection and is not counted in hospital mortality figures because it is not thought to reflect standards of care. Cases of septicaemia were four times higher than expected.