The cardiac surgery service at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is safe, but further improvements are needed, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has confirmed in an inspection report published today (Thursday, 6 December).

The CQC carried out a focussed inspection of the cardiac surgery service at St George’s Hospital in Tooting in August and September this year, and has confirmed in its inspection report today that the service provided for patients is safe.

Since the CQC’s inspection, and in response to the external, independent report completed by Professor Mike Bewick in July, the Trust has taken a number of steps to stabilise and improve the service – for the benefit of patients, and staff.

This includes the appointment of Mr Steven Livesey, an experienced cardiac surgeon from outside the organisation, to provide leadership for the service. Mr Livesey has now started in post.

The service has also moved to a consultant of the week model (which is considered best practice), and two additional cardiac surgeons have also been appointed.

All new cardiac surgery cases are now reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team on a daily basis. A new governance lead has also been appointed, and new software has been rolled out to capture mortality and morbidity data in real-time.

To enable us to deliver these much needed improvements, and to maintain patient safety, the Trust took the decision to temporarily transfer the most complex cardiac surgery operations to other centres in September.

This arrangement remains in place until further notice, as does the decision by Health Education England – fully supported by the Trust – to temporarily remove trainees from the cardiac surgery service.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Chief Executive of St George’s, said:

“I am pleased the CQC has confirmed the cardiac surgery service we provide is safe, following their visit in the summer.

“The service experienced significant challenges earlier this year, and it will be reassuring to the communities we serve that the CQC has confirmed it is safe.

“Of course, this does not change the fact that significant improvements are required – and significant progress has been made since the CQC’s visit back in August.

“I am grateful to many of our cardiac surgery staff for the commitment and dedication they have shown – they deserve a huge amount of praise during what was a difficult period for the service.”

You can read the inspection report in full when it is published on CQC website by clicking on this link