An acute trust in the North West has suspended its spinal surgery services after four serious incidents – including two patient deaths – were identified over a six month period.

Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust said early indications suggested the deaths were “related to medical complications and not the surgery itself”, but the cases are to be reviewed externally.

Professor Simon Constable, medical director and deputy chief executive, said: “We have made the decision to temporarily suspend our spinal surgery at Warrington and Halton Hospitals following the identification of four serious incidents involving spinal surgery patients over a six month period.

“Sadly, two of these incidents were patient deaths. Early indications suggest these were related to medical complications and not the surgery itself, but these cases are now subject to the external review.

“Although these incidents appear very different from each other, as a precautionary measure the trust, working with our commissioners and regulators, has temporarily stopped doing spinal procedures until a full external review has been undertaken.

“We understand that this may cause concern for patients on our waiting list or being referred into our services and we sincerely apologise for this.”

The review will be by the Royal College of Surgeons and start in November.

The trust’s surgical services were rated good by the Care Quality Commission following an inspection in early 2015.