Rates of mortality for heart surgery at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust are within the acceptable statistical limits, according to a report by the Healthcare Commission.
But the cardiothoracic surgical unit lacks key components of a high quality service and needs to make improvements if it is to reclaim its reputation as a centre of excellence.
Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the Commission, said: ?It is important to remember that cardiothoracic surgeons are under more scrutiny than any other type of surgeon. They are the only surgeons to publish comprehensive information on rates of mortality and this is to be strongly commended.
?We investigated the cardiac unit at Oxford Radcliffe because of doubts that have been raised about its performance over a number of years.This investigation has shown that this unit is currently operating within acceptable limits. Patients should be reassured by that.
?But the investigation also shows that surgeons must analyse the causes of high mortality rates when they do occur, ensure that arrangements for proper care are in place for high-risk cases, and work closely together and with colleagues in other specialties. All of these are very important for patients. The Oxford Radcliffe needs to do this systematically.
?This investigation has provided a clear way forward for the Trust to improve its practices through better use of data, better leadership and better management of patients assessed as being high-risk. We hope that we have given the unit an opportunity to take actions that will end some of the doubts that have surrounded it for too long.
?With the uncertainty now behind it, providing the Trust acts on the recommendations, there is no reason why the cardiothoracic unit at Oxford Radcliffe should not once again lead in the field of heart surgery. I hope it achieves this.?
The report criticises the Trust for failing to its review its performance despite being aware that its rate of mortality for the most common cardiac operation was higher than average. The Commission found that the Trust did not tailor its systems to cater for high-risk patients and said that consultant surgeons did not work together to coordinate care or learn from each other. The Commission also considers that leadership of the consultant surgeons needs strengthening.
The investigation was prompted by concern over higher than expected rates of mortality and a history of problems in the unit since the late 1990s. These included a critical report by the then NHS Executive in 2000 and a rating by the Healthcare Commission of significantly below average for deaths following cardiac bypass operations in 2004/05.
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Sub-editorHeart :: Mortality rates at Oxford Radcliffe heart unit within acceptable limits
by Sub-editor ( Author at Spirit India )
Posted on March 28th, 2007 at 9:28 am.
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