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Trust apologises for heart surgeon’s exclusion amidst a ‘toxic’ row inside a ‘feuding’ cardiac unit

The scandal-hit St George’s University Hospitals NHS FT has apologised for wrongly suspending a senior heart surgeon and admitted that a fresh approach is needed to deal with its “feuding” and “tribalistic” heart unit.

Marjan Jahangiri, a consultant cardiac surgeon, was excluded from work in August 2018 after being accused of bullying, but reached an out-of-court settlement after winning an initial High Court battle against the trust.

But St George’s has now apologised to Jahangiri for the exclusion and the “distress” the legal proceedings had caused and said it “accepts that it failed to correctly follow its internal procedures.”

St George’s has come under heavy criticism following a CQC inspection of the cardiac unit at the end of last year in which inspectors reported finding weak leadership, a culture of bullying, and “tribalism.”

The hostilities between “feuding” surgeons at St George’s Hospital became so intense they required mediation, with complex heart conditions moved out of the hospital after a leaked document revealed a “toxic” row had contributed to a higher than average death rate.

But following an interim High Court injunction hearing, Mr Justice Nicklin said it was unclear why the hospital had taken such a drastic step and ruled that professor Jahangiri’s exclusion was unlawful.

The commissioned review into working relationships at the cardiac unit, which was responsible for Jahangiri’s exclusion, has now also been shelved because the trust decided it did not enable it to resolve any of the concerns raised.

In its joint statement with the surgeon, St George’s said it was now attempting to resolve the cardiac unit’s problem through the appointment of Steven Liversey, an experienced cardiac surgery specialist, to lead the service.

The trust also paid tribute to Jahangiri’s “long-standing commitment and dedication to the cardiac surgery service,” which she had helped build.

The terms of agreement are confidential but the two parties have entered into a private settlement, and the trust added that it has taken steps to learn from these events to ensure they do not happen again.

Image credit - John Stillwell/PA Wire/PA Images


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