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‘Unfounded’ NHS criticism and investigation caused unnecessary deaths at London heart surgery unit

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Heart surgery patients in London have died “unnecessarily” and faced increased risk of death as botched NHS investigations into dozens of deaths reduced a hospital’s ability to treat people, a coroner has warned.

“Unnecessary” patient deaths have occurred as a result of heart surgery at St George’s University Hospital Trust being restricted and emergencies diverted to other “over stretched” hospitals, following investigations by national NHS bodies.

The warning that deaths have occurred and may occur in the future, comes following the conclusion of a series of inquest hearings in March, during which it was found the NHS’ wrongly blamed a team of cardiac surgeons for the deaths of dozens of patients.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox, in a report published on Wednesday, has now said the “inadequate” NHS led investigations, which criticised the care of 67 patients, led to people being put increased risk of death.

The NHS’ investigations into the deaths of 67 patients ruled there were “shortcomings” in care. It led to complex operations being diverted elsewhere and doctors being referred to the General Medical Council. Two doctors have sinced been exonerated following GMC hearings.

According to the coroner’s findings, capacity within cardiac surgery at the unit is down by 60% and staff are becoming “deskilled.”

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Source: The Independent, 11 May 2022

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