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Statement on St George's Cardiac Surgery unit following today's The Times front page

04 Aug 2018

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Surgeons and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, said:
“We are aware of the concerns regarding the cardiac surgical service at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and that an independent review has now been carried out. The review has brought to light serious issues at the hospital. It is clear that St George’s first obligation is to ensure that it is providing a safe standard of care for all patients attending the cardiac surgical unit. 
“The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery (SCTS) informed St George’s in both March 2017 and March 2018 that analysis of their results showed that early survival after cardiac surgery at the hospital for the periods of activity 2013-2016 and 2014-2017 was lower than the expected level, although still within the UK standard. This is called an alert and does not automatically mean there is a cause for concern as there may be clinically valid reasons why the Trust has a worse early-survival rate than other units around the country. Such alerts are  designed as an early warning system to allow hospitals to review outcomes for their patients and if necessary take steps to correct any deterioration in the performance of the service. This can include Trusts requesting an external review of their services via the College’s Invited Review Mechanism, although this has not been carried out for St George’s.
“Cardiac surgery within the UK is amongst the safest in the world and St George’s has always shown that early survival for their patients is within what is regarded as the UK standard. It has never been below the required standard for the UK. All the other hospitals in the UK have shown that early survival after cardiac surgery is at the required standard, with only St George’s triggering the early warning alert over the last 4 years of surgery. Nevertheless the independent review has highlighted serious concerns so it is still crucial that St George’s address the findings of the report so that patients can be sure they are receiving the best possible care. 
“The Royal College of Surgeons and SCTS are available to support St George’s to further identify the issues that have led to this situation, and to make recommendations as to how the necessary urgent improvements that are needed can be made.”  


Notes to editors

  1. The Royal College of Surgeons offers invited reviews - which are led by expert teams, including a layperson representing the patient and public interest - to determine whether there is cause for concern and to make early recommendations for improvement to a Trust.
  2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.
  3. For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office
    For out of hours media enquiries: 07966 486832

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