latest health care news

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 >

featured articles

View all News

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 beyond more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

Turning blue lights green

11/04/2019Turning blue lights green

Polly Billington, director of UK100, a cities network that campaigns on env... more >
Going back to school at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

10/04/2019Going back to school at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Steve Hams, director of quality and chief nurse at Gloucestershire Hospital... 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 s... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

Our Health Heroes

16/04/2019Our Health Heroes

Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discusses the upcoming Our Health He... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

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 exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >