Police are expanding an investigation into deaths at the Royal Sussex County Hospital to include more recent cases amid allegations of medical malpractice.

An investigation by Sussex Police, now named Operation Bramber, initially looked into the deaths of around 40 patients in the general surgery and neurosurgery departments at the hospital in Brighton between 2015 and 2020.

However, the scope of the investigation has now been extended to cases in 2021 amid allegations that the departments continue to be unsafe and fail to properly review serious incidents.

Whistleblowers at Brighton’s main hospital are understood to have raised concerns about the deaths after alleged “botched operations”.

A police spokeswoman said: “Sussex Police has received allegations of medical negligence at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and is currently assessing these allegations.

“The concerns raised relate to neurosurgery and general surgery in a period between 2015 and 2021.

“Enquiries are at an early stage and this does not necessarily mean this will lead to criminal prosecution.

“We are working closely with partner agencies and the hospital trust is co-operating fully with our review.”

However, an insider told The Guardian that police should review what was considered to be an avoidable death as recently as July and said some surgeons at the hospital "remain a danger to patients".

The source told the newspaper: “This is not a historic issue, it is ongoing. The same surgeons that were involved in previous problems remain in place.”

Among the new cases understood to be under review by police include that of 23-year-old Lewis Chilcott, who died at the hospital in July 2021 after a tracheostomy led to infection and a fatal arterial haemorrhage. A coroner concluded that Lewis died from damage caused by a complication of the procedure, with a review by the Royal College of Surgeons concluding it was likely a low position of the inserted tube that caused his death.

A spokesman for the University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said they are “co-operating fully” with the investigation.