St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is today (4 September) announcing extra steps to deal with the long-standing issues faced by its cardiac surgical service.

It has taken the decision to ask NHS Improvement, as external regulators, to oversee the work it is doing to improve the service.

NHSI has agreed and is setting up an external, independent oversight panel to provide oversight of the actions the Trust is taking.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Chief Executive of St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are already taking action to address the issues within the cardiac surgical service at St George’s.

“Now, we have asked NHS Improvement to help us resolve these issues, and we are confident the independent panel they are convening will provide further external oversight of the work we are doing.

“My priority – and that of the Trust Board – is to ensure patients receive safe, high quality care at all times – and today’s announcement reinforces that. This remains our focus.

“Yesterday, we met with our partners and had extremely helpful discussions on the challenges we face, and next steps to improve cardiac surgery services at St George’s.

“Finally, we remain committed to ensuring our staff have strong and professional working relationships, in a learning environment where they can speak up safely.”

The Trust had previously commissioned a review of the service undertaken by Professor Mike Bewick, former deputy medical director of NHS England.

As a result of the report’s findings and recommendations, the Trust also brought in experts to work with the cardiac surgical service to assess the impact of behaviours on members of staff and the effectiveness of the team.

The make-up of the independent panel will be agreed shortly, but will involve senior clinicians and managers from external organisations.