Deaths of up to 250 heart patients to be reviewed at NHS hospital | UK News

The deaths of up to 250 patients who died after heart surgery at an NHS hospital are set to be reviewed.

All of the patients had been treated at the St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, between April 2013 and September 2018.

NHS Improvement commissioned a review after complex heart surgery was suspended last year to enhance services.

A leaked report in 2018 suggested that St George’s Hospital heart unit was consumed by a “dark force”, where patients were put at risk by a dysfunctional team of surgeons.

A “toxic” feud between two rival camps at the unit was said to have left staff feeling a high death rate was inevitable.

The poor relationships between surgeons was suggested to have contributed to a higher mortality rate.

The report said the hospital had a cardiac surgery death rate of 3.7% – with the national average standing at 2%.

Conversations with 39 staff revealed they were shocked by the death rate, but “most felt that poor performance was inevitable due to the pervading atmosphere”.

Care Quality Commission inspectors reported in December they had found top physicians with “strong” personalities unable to work together effectively.

Their subsequent report found “consultant surgeons mistrusted each other, as well as cardiologists, anaesthetists and senior leaders”.

There was also culture of “tribalism”, one consultant said.

The panel’s review includes deaths that took place between April 2017 and 1 September 2018, during which time improvements were being introduced.

The trust said families of cardiac surgery patients who died during the review period will be contacted if the panel identifies “any significant concerns about their care”.

Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive at St George’s Hospital, said: “It is absolutely essential that patients and their families have full confidence in the care our cardiac surgery team provide – and this review of past deaths will be a key part of that process.”

The medical records of those who died will be examined during the review, alongside any investigations conducted by the trust at the time of the patients’ deaths.

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