NHS director: No 'safety problem' at heart centres

There are no indications of a "safety problem" at children's heart surgery centres, NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said today, following the temporary suspension of operations in Leeds and the publication of mortality rates at the centres. Sir Keogh said:

These findings do not indicate a 'safety' problem in any centre.

However, centres with three-year outcomes approaching the alert threshold may deserve additional scrutiny and monitoring of current performance.

By definition, around half of all units will have more deaths than 'expected'. It is therefore inappropriate to label centres as 'blameworthy' for these deaths, as the analysis does not show a significantly increased mortality rate.

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Ex-heart tsar's Leeds safety fear

The government's former heart tsar has said he would not send his own daughter for treatment at Leeds General Infirmary's child cardiac unit. Low-risk operations have resumed there after surgery was suspended over concerns about the death rates.