Hospital trusts to be investigated by Sir Bruce Keogh over their mortality rates, including three in the North West, have welcomed the forthcoming review.
The five trusts - Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust - have been "outliers" on the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) for the two successive years to 2012.
Christine Green, chief executive of Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said she looked forward to receiving Sir Bruce's team, adding it was "well recognised" that the trust's SHMI had been elevated for the past two years.
Ms Green said: "In the same way as the hospital has addressed the Dr Foster reported Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio, it has committed to working with its partner organisations to similarly reduce the SHMI. This additional national focus from Sir Bruce Keogh is welcomed by the hospital as it provides for an even wider-reaching review of the many complex factors that influence the SHMI across the Tameside and Glossop health economy."
A spokeswoman for Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said they were committed to improving mortality rates, with all hospital deaths reviewed to identify any lessons that can be learned. The trust's chief executive Clare Panniker said: "We will fully support the review by Sir Bruce Keogh and believe it can only further support our work in this area."
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said clinicians had been trying to understand why the trust has had high SHMI and that they were working to put improvement plans in place.
Dr Mark O'Donnell, medical director of the trust, said: "We recently commissioned the Advancing Quality Alliance to carry out an independent review of our mortality rates which involved interviews with clinicians and managers and a detailed review of our mortality data and patient case notes. The report concluded there was no cause for clinical concern about patient care. However, we welcome any further assurance this latest review can give to our trust, patients and the public."
Mark Brearley, chief executive at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said the trust took the findings "very seriously" and welcomed the independent review.
Dominic Harrison, director of public health at NHS Blackburn with Darwen (BwD), said: "We welcome any review of health care outcomes in the borough and will fully engage with partners in the health economy in this review. We know that BwD has some of the worst life expectancy in England and we are working very hard to address the causes of these poor health outcomes."
In a joint statement, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Dr Gordon Coutts and North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group's clinical chief officer Dr Shane Gordon said: "We take all unexpected deaths very seriously and have been closely monitoring these figures over the past two years, with extensive analysis from the trust, commissioners and the National Emergency Care Team. The number of deaths at the trust's hospitals (Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, Colchester) has been falling progressively year-on-year and are within the expected levels on other indicators."