Last weekend, there was extensive coverage in the media about cardiac surgery at St George’s Hospital.

The media coverage focused on the findings of Professor Mike Bewick’s independent review of cardiac surgery commissioned by the Trust.

His review found that our cardiac surgeons ‘were working in camps’ and that there was a ‘persistent toxic atmosphere’ within the unit.

Our first priority is to reassure patients who use our cardiac surgery services. This is why we posted statements on our website, Twitter and Facebook saying that, despite the need for the service to improve, cardiac surgery at St George’s is safe – and this is still the case.

As a result, anyone scheduled to visit St George’s for cardiac surgery, assessment or treatment should continue to attend as they normally would. However, if you are a patient and have any questions or queries, please call the number on your appointment or operation letter, or contact our Patient Advice and Liaison (PALS) team during office hours on 020 8725 2453/email

The action we have taken

We commissioned Professor Mike Bewick to carry out an independent, external review of cardiac surgery at St George’s to help us improve the service.

We approached Professor Bewick because he is completely independent, and the ‘go to’ expert when it comes to reviews of this kind, having carried out cardiac surgery reviews at other NHS Trusts.

His review makes a series of recommendations, which we have accepted in full, and are implementing at pace.

We have already taken action to improve the service, including:

– Moving all cardiac surgeons to a single specialty practice. As a result, both cardiac surgery and thoracic surgery at St George’s is now only undertaken by single specialty surgeons.

–  Inviting Guy’s and St Thomas’ to provide us with on the ground, clinical leadership support. They agreed, and a cardiac surgeon from Guy’s and St Thomas’ has spent time in our cardiac surgery unit this week.

– Addressing concerns about cardiac surgery data management and governance, with a new management structure introduced last week.

– Advertising for an additional consultant cardiac surgeon to join the team.

Professor Bewick’s report also raised a number of serious concerns around team working among the cardiac surgery consultants.

As a result, we have appointed a senior HR specialist to complete a focused review of behaviours within our cardiac surgery unit which will report within five weeks. Interviews with staff have begun this week.

A range of additional changes and improvements will be introduced over the coming days, weeks and months, with a detailed action plan overseen by a Cardiac Task Force established by the Trust.

Professor Bewick’s report

Today, we are publishing Professor Bewick’s final report, including appendices, which you can access here*.

We are publishing Professor Bewick’s report to help those who want to i) better understand the issues he identified; ii) the recommendations he has put forward; and iii) the actions we are taking as a result.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Chief Executive and Professor Andrew Rhodes, Medical Director, St George’s, said:

“We would like to stress again that the cardiac surgery service at St George’s is safe.

“However, we also know the service needs to improve, and quickly – this is why we asked Professor Bewick to carry out his review, and this is the reason we are implementing his recommendations as quickly as we can.

“We would like to thank our patients and members of the public for their support, as well as our staff who are continuing to do their very best for patients every day.”

*Some sections of the report have been blacked out (redacted) – this is simply to protect the identity of individuals. The report is otherwise the same one Professor Bewick sent us in July.