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Scandal-hit heart surgery unit warned for third time over ‘toxic’ culture

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Junior doctors have been prevented from returning to scandal hit heart surgery unit previously criticised over “toxic” culture, The Independent has learned.

A coroner defended cardiac surgery at St George’s University Hospital, criticising an NHS-commissioned review into 67 deaths that warned of poor care.

However, The Independent has learned the unit received a critical report from Health Education England (HEE), the body responsible for healthcare training, just last year.

The NHS authority was so concerned about culture problems and “inappropriate behaviour” within the unit that it took away the junior doctors working there.

This is the third time HEE has intervened since 2018, when the unit was criticised in an independent review for having a “toxic” culture.

In a statement, Professor Geeta Menon, postgraduate dean for South London at Health Education England, said: “HEE carried out a review of cardiac surgery at St George’s University Hospital in July 2021 and concluded that further improvements were required to create a suitable learning environment for doctors in training.

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

“We continue to work closely with the trust to implement our requirements and recommendations and will reassess their progress this summer. HEE is committed to ensuring high quality patient care and the best possible learning environment for postgraduate doctors at St George’s.”

The Independent understands that a report issued in December, following the HEE visit, identified problems of “inappropriate behaviour”, poor team working from consultants and raised concerns the culture problems previously identified at the unit persisted.

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Source: The Independent, 14 May 2022

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