HAMPSHIRE hospitals have average mortality rates, according to The Sunday Times Good Hospital Guide.

Winchester and Eastleigh Health-care NHS Trust, which has 32 doctors per 100 beds, ranked seventh in the league of low death rates out of 27 hospitals in the South-East.

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust ranked 20th, but has 56 doctors per 100 beds.

The guide describes a low death rate as a crucial performance indicator by which a hospital can be judged.

It reveals for the first time the number of patient-deaths for 174 English NHS hospital trusts, taking into account factors such as age, gender and diagnosis.

A spokesman for the guide said that although death rates were a critical piece of data in measuring the performance of hospital trusts, they were only one out of ten comparative indicators used.

Winchester scored a mortality index of 94 and Southampton 104.

The figures were compiled by Imperial College School of Scien-ce, Technology and Medicine, in London, under the direction of Sir Brian Jarman.

The guide describes an average performance of having a mortality index of 100.