An independent investigation will examine "historic patient safety incidents" at a failed NHS trust amid concerns that around 150 deaths were not properly investigated.

It follows two previous reports on Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust which found evidence of patient harm and a culture of bullying at the “dysfunctional” trust.

The new probe, launched by the Government, will be led by Dr Bill Kirkup, who published a report into the trust last year, and will look at serious incidents between 2010 and 2014.

A Government statement said “newly-revealed historic incidents of serious harm” will be part of the investigation, which has been commissioned by health minister Stephen Hammond.

It follows fresh evidence identified by Mersey Care, which took over the trust, and will involve the families of former patients and affected staff.

Dr Bill Kirkup will lead the investigation. Credit: PA

The first and second stages of the investigation will include looking at patient deaths at the trust.

It will also look at individual serious patient safety incidents that were not reported or adequately investigated by Liverpool Community Health.

The third stage will assess the level of patient harm and any lessons that can be learned, including on the role of senior managers.

Dr Kirkup is expected to publish his findings by the end of 2020.

Health minister Stephen Hammond has commissioned the investigation. Credit: PA

Mr Hammond said: “We owe it to the patients and families affected by substandard care in Liverpool Community Health to establish the full extent of events and give them the answers they need.

“The new investigation we have commissioned will review fresh evidence to make sure no stone is left unturned.

“Dr Bill Kirkup and his expert panel will draw upon his knowledge and experience in this area to oversee a thorough and independent investigation and we await his recommendations.”

“We are prepared to take any action that is necessary – locally or nationally – to prevent such occurrences in the future.”

Dr Kirkup’s 2018 reported identified “widespread failings” at the trust, which slashed costs in its pursuit of foundation trust status.

It was formed in 2010 and ran services for about 750,000 people on Merseyside until 2018.