Heart unit inquiry over high death rate

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Indy Lifestyle Online

One of Britain's leading heart hospitals is to be investigated amid concerns about high death rates and other problems.

The probe into the cardiac surgery unit of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford follows five years of damning reports into the way the centre has been run.

Experts from the Healthcare Commission will spend at least six months at the hospital investigating the latest accusations. New figures on mortality rates for adults undergoing surgery at the unit are believed to have triggered the review of services.

Nigel Ellis, head of investigations at the commission, said: "Our analysis of the most recent data, together with the views expressed about service over a number of years, has raised our level of concern. We now feel an investigation is needed."

Once considered to be among the best centres for heart operations in the world, the unit has been plagued by internecine warfare between surgeons, soaring nurse vacancy rates and lack of reliable data on surgical outcomes.

Yesterday, the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust said it welcomed the latest investigation and insisted that death rates for adult patients were comparable with other units.