Watchdog Finds Cardiac ‘Failings’

A NHS trust has promised an action plan for the cardiac centre at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital after a health watchdog found difficulties remain. A Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) review of the centre found “many failings” over several years. It follows “discord” emerging amongst cardiac surgery staff in 2003.

Swansea NHS Trust said despite “well publicised internal issues”, patient care and outcomes had been “consistently excellent”.

Two years ago, mediators were brought in and an investigation was launched into allegations of bullying and harassment at the unit. The entire surgery team was also given the week off due to what the trust described as work “pressure”.

Unions stressed at the time that patients had not been affected by the problems. It prompted HIW to investigate to ensure the level of care was in line with national guidelines.

The review concludes that while staff were working extremely hard “difficulties remain and the body of this report catalogues many failings in the Trust over several years”. It has recommended an action plan after finding weaknesses in areas ranging from basic staff management procedures to risk assessments.

HIW chief executive, Peter Higson said: “Although the trust has invested considerable time and effort to addressing the issues, problems still remain and there is still further work for the trust to do to resolve these.”

Swansea NHS Trust’s acting chief executive Calum Campbell said: “Even though there has been some well-publicised internal issues between some members of staff, patient care and outcomes have been consistently excellent since the unit opened in 1997.

Mr Campbell added: “The outcomes for patients are better than expected, given the complexity of surgery and the sickness of the patients before their operations. Thus the trust can be confident the cardiac centre has been, and continues to be, one of the best performing in the UK in terms of clinical outcomes.”

He said that the trust had “already gone some way” to resolving the internal issues in the cardiac centre but it accepted the recommendations and would be “formulating an action plan to address them”.