Care Pathways

06.12.18

Inspectors find feuding surgeons’ ‘tribalism’ and culture of hostility at cardiac unit contributed to higher death rate

Inspectors have reported weak leadership, a culture of bullying, and “tribalism” between feuding heart surgeons after a review of a troubled cardiac unit in London.

Hostilities between surgeons at St George’s Hospital became so intense they required mediation when complex heart operations were moved out of the hospital in September after a leaked document revealed a “toxic” row had contributed to a higher than average death rate.

The CQC said that mediation only worked briefly before “poor behaviour” returned, and reported that “strong” personalities were unable to work together effectively.

In their report, the health inspectorate stated that “consultant surgeons mistrusted each other, as well as cardiologists, anaesthetists and senior leaders.”

Staff told inspectors that the cardiac surgical team “had not worked effectively for several years” and described poor working relationships and a “culture of bullying and harassment” as harming the effective running of the unit.

A number of high-risk patients were being diverted to other hospitals, and the CQC also pointed at a culture of not learning from incidents, problematic patient records, and a lack of oversight.

The CQC said the cardiac surgery unit in Tooting must improve, but the trust said the services provided were safe.

An external oversight panel was brought in in September to “deal with the long-standing issues” facing the cardiac surgical services, and the week before a barred heart surgeon at the trust won a High Court battle after being accused of bullying.

England’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “Issues such as weak leadership, internal unrest and multiple electronic patient record systems are just some of the problems affecting St George’s Hospital cardiac surgery unit.

“We have told the trust it must now take steps to improve the morale, culture and systems within the unit. Colleagues at NHS Improvement have set up an independent scrutiny panel for cardiac surgery to advise, challenge and support the trust through this difficult time.

“I expect to see improvements at the cardiac surgery unit and CQC will be monitoring the situation closely. We did note that there were no immediate concerns regarding patient safety, which is our paramount concern at all times.”

The report in the summer leaked by former NHS England deputy medical director Mike Bewick showed that the unit had a cardiac surgery death rate of 3.7%, which is above the national average of 2%.

Image credit - John Stillwell/PA Wire/PA Images

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Two NHS trusts spent a third of the year on highest ‘Opel 4’ pressure alert

12/12/2018Two NHS trusts spent a third of the year on highest ‘Opel 4’ pressure alert

Two NHS trusts spent more than a third of the year under extreme pressure and on the highest level of alert. An investigation by the BBC fou... more >
Financially struggling NHS trust appoints fifth chief executive in just five years

12/12/2018Financially struggling NHS trust appoints fifth chief executive in just five years

The financially troubled West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has appointed Christen Allen as its newest chief executive – marking its fi... more >
Quarter of trusts spent no money on cyber security last year as NHS’s ‘alarming’ cyber training inconsistencies revealed

12/12/2018Quarter of trusts spent no money on cyber security last year as NHS’s ‘alarming’ cyber training inconsistencies revealed

One in four NHS trusts in England and Wales are spending no money on specialist cyber security or training and trusts are consistently failing to... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

The robots are here at East Suffolk and North Essex

12/12/2018The robots are here at East Suffolk and North Essex

Lauren Hockney, senior communications officer at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT (ESNEFT), outlines how her trust is embracing the digital and automation revolution. Robots have arrived at the ESNEFT, and they are giving back hundreds of hours to staff so they can spend more time helping patients. The trust, which includes Colche... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Creating a volunteer 'passport'

12/12/2018Creating a volunteer 'passport'

By utilising the health service’s volunteers, we can deliver better care for everyone, argues Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical project lead at Hel... more >
Right people, right place, right now

12/12/2018Right people, right place, right now

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, raises concerns around the mental health workforce and shares some best practice from ... more >
Breaking down barriers to integration

12/12/2018Breaking down barriers to integration

Anne Marie Morris, member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and MP for Newton Abbott, outlines the committee’s recent report on the ba... more >
An attack on them is an attack on us all

12/12/2018An attack on them is an attack on us all

Chris Bryant MP discusses the new law he championed that came into effect in September, which doubles jail time for anyone who assaults emergency... more >

interviews

How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >

health service focus

View all News