Glasgow hospital halts heart ops after child deaths

The fatalities occurred at Yorkhill hospital, which closed earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin
The fatalities occurred at Yorkhill hospital, which closed earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin
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PAEDIATRIC heart operations have been suspended at a Glasgow hospital after it emerged three youngsters had died in one month after undergoing operations there.

The fatalities occurred sometime this year at Yorkhill Hospital, which closed earlier this month. However, Yorkhill services have now moved to the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children at the South Glasgow Hospitals campus, where an investigation into clinical pratice is now to be carried out.

Internal investigation and external review is taking place

Shona Robison

Children requiring urgent treatment for hypoplastic left heart syndrome – one of the most complex congential heart disorders – have temporarily been transferred to a hospital in London. Other paediatric surgery is going ahead as normal.

The investigation, which will be carried out by National Services Division on behalf of the Scottish Government, will look at anaesthetics, intensive care, cardiology and cardiac surgery.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “The families involved in these circumstances have our upmost sympathy.

“The Yorkhill Centre has excellent results, in line with the best in the rest of the UK. However, in light of these recent cases it is right that an internal investigation and an external review is taking place.”

She added: “Both will report their findings later this year and it is important everyone lets this process conclude before commenting further.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GGC) said: “The Paediatric Cardiac Surgical Service has a nationally set predicted level for survival rates and the unit continues to remain within these.

“Any deaths which occur are fully reviewed and in line with our ongoing processes of continual scrutiny and ongoing quality improvement we have invited external colleagues from another UK specialist unit to review our clinical practice.”

She said that the health board had also established an internal review of the ways in which staff in the highly specialist team were involved in the surgery work together.

She added: “All complex surgery continues as normal in the unit, however, for any patients requiring hypoplastic left heart syndrome surgery, this will temporarily be undertaken at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London.

“We intend to return this service to Glasgow as soon as the Paediatric Cardiac Surgical Service has bedded down in its new location and once the reviews have been concluded.”

Just seven cases of the illness, a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart, are expected in Scotland each year.

The disorder may be diagnosed during pregnancy or sometimes is not spotted until soon after the baby is born.

NHS GGC said that the decision to transfer cases was also partly due to the move from Yorkhill.