Clinical Negligence

Publish date

27 March 2020

Damning report finds St George’s heart surgery deaths due to poor care

An independent report has highlighted failings in the care provided in the cardiac surgery unit at St George’s hospital were responsible for the deaths of patients.

The report reviewed the deaths of 202 patients who had heart surgery at the hospital between 2013 and 2018 and concluded there were failings in the care provided to 102 of the patients.

The investigation also found that for 67 of the patients the care failings either definitely, most likely or probably contributed to their deaths.

The independent review was undertaken by a panel of medical and cardiac surgery experts, appointed by NHS Improvement.

The report, which was released on the 26th, follows significant media attention in 2018, including a leaked report that suggested “toxic” feuds between surgeons in the cardiac unit had contributed to higher than average death rates.

Complex cardiac surgery was suspended at the hospital for a period and a Cardiac Surgery Task Force was set up to address long standing problems in the cardiac unit.  They introduced a number of changes and improvements to working practices.

The Care Quality Commission inspected the trust between July and December 2019 and found significant improvements had been made by the hospital’s new senior leadership team.

NHS Improvement have also put measures in place to support the unit and to ensure that there is continued progress and improvement.

The Trust wrote to the relatives of heart surgery patients included in the review in 2019 and then contacted them again earlier this month to inform them of the panel’s findings in relation to individual patients, as well as to offer support and a meeting.

Many of the families impacted by this report may be wondering what their options are now and what their next steps should be.  Some of the families may be entitled to compensation for the death of their loved one.  The rules are complex and it is important to take legal advice from a solicitor with expertise in the area.  It’s usually possible to conduct a claim on a “no win no fee” basis at no upfront cost.  It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible as there are time limits for seeking compensation.  The rules on time limits in the current situation are particularly complex because of the time that has passed between many of the deaths and the publication of the current report and so it is important to obtain advice from a solicitor who has expertise in the area.

We have represented many clients who have suffered injury as a result of poor cardiac surgical care as well as families who have lost loved ones in similar situations and our solicitors would be happy to talk through the options and offer support to anyone impacted by this tragic situation.

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