England's chief doctor would send his children for heart surgery at Bristol Royal Hospital - even though he has just ordered a review into deaths there

 

Health Reporter

England’s top doctor has said he would allow his child to be treated on the children’s heart ward at a Bristol hospital, days after he ordered an independent review of the unit in the wake of safety fears.

In a statement addressed to the parents of children currently being treated on the paediatric cardiac unit at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the medical director of NHS England Sir Bruce Keogh said that his concerns about Bristol did not relate to “urgent safety issues that require immediate action”.

An independent review of the ward was ordered last week, after Sir Bruce met 10 families who have raised concerns about their children’s cardiac care. Parents of seven children who have died at the hospital, part of the University Hospitals Bristol (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust, attended the meeting.

However, Sir Bruce moved yesterday to reassure the hospital’s current patients and their families that death rates following surgery on the ward were “consistently in the middle of the pack compared with other units”.

“I have of course also heard, loudly and clearly, the serious concerns of the families,” Sir Bruce said. “These require forensic and effective investigation and the independent review should do that.”

However, data from the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR) showed that mortality rates following children’s heart surgery at the hospital are comparable to other units, he said.

He added: “As part of all this, I have asked myself the question that perhaps matters most: would I allow my child to go in today? The answer is ‘yes I would'.”

The father of seven-year-old Luke Jenkins, who died at the hospital in April 2012 after suffering complications following open heart surgery said he was “disappointed” by the statement and questioned whether Luke’s death had been included in the most up to date statistics for the hospital.

The UHB Trust said earlier this week that it welcomed the independent review and maintained that its children’s heart service was delivering “good clinical outcomes” with 98 per cent of patients saying they had received excellent, very good and good care.

James Roxburgh, president of the Society of Cardiothoracic, said that while the 10 families had raised “very serious concerns” which required investigation, mortality rates at the hospital were “normal for the types of operation performed”.

“While this important process takes its course, we must also remember that patients are being operated on and surgeons are carrying out very complex procedures,” he said. “We must ensure that we support surgeons and all those looking after patients to ensure the safety and stability of the unit.”

Sir Ian Kennedy, the senior lawyer and health expert who led an inquiry into child heart surgery at the same NHS trust in the 1990s, has been recalled to carry out the new review.

His report into the deaths of children between 1991 and 1995 marked a turning point in the history of the NHS and led to significant reforms to the delivery of child cardiac services in England.

Last Friday’s meeting with the 10 families was proposed by Sir Bruce himself, after the father of four-year-old Sean Turner, who died at the hospital in March 2012, sent a tweet calling for him to “pick up the reins” over safety fears. 

Inquests into the deaths of both Luke Jenkins and Sean Turner found “no gross failures” in the care the children received and the Trust has said that changes have been made to improve the number of nurses available to care for patients with higher levels of need. However, more families have come forward with concerns since the improvements were made, and several are still seeking legal action against the Trust.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project