Trusts pinpointed as having a poor patient safety incident reporting culture on a new website have criticised the measure and its use of old data.

The website, launched on Tuesday as part of the government’s new Sign up to Safety campaign, features a measure of whether trusts have an open and honest reporting culture - one of three new indicators.

According to the Department of Health, the reporting culture metric is the first of its kind in the world. It combines five data points, including the reporting of patient safety incidents to the National Reporting and Learning System and staff views on the effectiveness of their organisation’s incident reporting procedures. Trusts have been given a green, blue or red rating, depending on whether they have been judged good, OK or bad.

However, HSJ has spoken to a number of red-rated trusts unhappy about the use of data on their reporting to the NRLS that only goes up to September last year.

A spokesman for Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “We are disappointed to note that the red rating for ‘open and honest reporting information’ relates to data which is out of date, highlighting an increased number of patient safety incidents resulting in harm.

“This is due to incidents being reported and graded in relation to potential harm instead of actual harm (as recognised by the National Reporting and Learning System itself). We are confident that current data will show we are in line with the national average.”

He added that it was also “disappointing” the trust had been red rated for its compliance with CQC standards just weeks after being rated “good” by the regulator in a trurnaround the health secretary described as “remarkable”.

Trusts are given a red rating for an open and honest reporting culture if they are judged poor against any of the five data points, including potential underreporting of death and severe harm.

A senior source at one trust affected by this measure said any metric that started “with the word ‘potential’ was probably flawed”.

Sheffield Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust was red rated for potential underreporting of patient safety incidents.

Medical director David Throssell said “never events” and serious incidents were routinely shared at the trust public board meetings and learning was shared throughout the organisation. He added: “This is not the behaviour of an organisation that does not have an honest and transparent approach to safety or reporting of incidents.”

The issue of what good patient safety reporting looks like is fraught. While high levels of incidents is generally thought to reflect a good culture, low levels could indicate either a poor culture or an organisation that is delivering safe care.

Announcing the launch health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “NHS England has assessed that 20 per cent of trusts don’t have an open and honest reporting mechanism, and we want to change that.”