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‘Failing’ children’s heart unit continues treatment

‘Failing’ children’s heart unit continues treatment

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Leeds General Infirmary children’s heart surgery unit will begin to take in patients today (10 April 2013) following the first stage of a review. 

The hospital, which had high mortality, concerns about staffing levels, whistleblowing and patient complaints has been given a preliminary all clear, but has been asked to improve the monitoring of care. 

The review found that the Trust’s data for monitoring surgical results was uniquely poor, triggering concerns about death rates and gaps in information.

NHS England accepted the recommendation of an independent clinical team which had been working to establish how safe the unit was. 

'Low risk'

The decision follows a risk summit that drew together the Trust, NHS England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

However the hospital will resume only with lower-risk cases.

The second stage will scrutinise whether referral practices are clinically appropriate and explore the way complaints are handled at the hospital. 

Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of NHS England, said: “If we have learned anything from public inquiries such as Bristol and Mid Staffordshire it is that patients were harmed while organisations argued about the veracity of data used to measure clinical results, rather than addressing the underlying issues. 

“I am pleased that we have now been given assurances by independent assessors that the immediate safety concerns, which were bubbling up from a variety of sources, have been addressed and that the unit can recommence surgery.”

He added: “I want to be clear that NHS England will do everything in its power to make sure that measuring clinical outcomes will be given priority in the new NHS. 

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