The Royal College of Surgeons and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery are strongly supportive of the commissioning standards published last year for fetal, paediatric and adult congenital heart disease.

Responding to plans for heart surgery announced by NHS England today, a statement from both organisations said:

“Nationwide changes to the way we care for patients undergoing congenital heart surgery have been sorely needed and slow to happen. Improvements required in children’s heart surgery were highlighted when the Bristol Royal Infirmary public inquiry reported as long ago as 2001.

“We fully support these standards. NHS England must ensure that the standards are applied for the benefit of patients, by ensuring that expertise is concentrated where it is most appropriate. The proposals put forward by NHS England today should improve patient outcomes and help address the variations in care currently provided.

“It is fundamentally important that specialist surgical centres are large enough and treat patients regularly enough to develop full expertise to treat all conditions. It’s vital they are properly staffed to provide on-call rotas and teams have the time to create a supportive environment where new techniques are shared and future specialists can learn.”

Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery
National Adult Cardiac Surgery Audit

The Society has pioneered collection of surgical information in the UK, having run a register of all major heart operations since 1977. Surgeons are rightly proud of what has been achieved through this approach. The comprehensive collection and feedback of clinical outcomes to members and the public has demonstrated a 25% reduction in mortality for adult cardiac surgery since 2003. There is also international benchmarking of our results showing a 25% better risk adjusted mortality for cardiac surgery than the European average. The SCTS is recognised widely as having been at the forefront of innovation and quality improvement in the NHS for the past decade.

The aim of the Society’s National Adult Cardiac Surgery Audit is to collect information about all major heart operations carried out in the UK and through that to improve quality of care for patients. The audit allows appropriate comparison of clinical performance with national and international standards, and provides useful data on changing trends within the specialty. We are international leaders in the field, having published data down to individual surgeon level since 2005. 

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