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Heart Report: 'Service Safe But Action Needed'

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12:15pm 6th December 2013

A report is out into why heart patients at Treliske had to wait up to a year and a half to be seen.

Inspectors went in when it turned out more than eight hundred people were on waiting lists.

They conclude the service is safe but warn there is no way to tell whether the hospital can cope with future demand.

Almost forty action points have been drawn up for the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust to implement.

Among the issues uncovered was a "sub-optimally functioning relationship" between the cardiology department and management that had lasted for years.

The report also warns "it is clear that elective patients in RCHT may encounter cancellations due to lack of bed availability" feeding into wider concerns around bed blocking.

Inspectors say they were "informed that, at times, the department itself has also been somewhat dysfunctional" pointing to "difficult inter-personal relationships" and a difficulty in identifying someone to lead the service.

One member of staff told investigators "finance wins out over quality."

Teams raised concerns about the poor state of decorative repair and found boxes of high-tech equipment worth up to £40,000 lying around.

The report was initially supposed to be confidential but health bosses say they have chosen to publish it in the interests of transparency.

The hospital says mammoth waiting lists have now been cleared.

In a statement Dr Andy Virr, Divisional Director of Medicine and Dr Andy May, NHS Kernow Governing Body and clinical lead for elective care said: "We are grateful to Dr Stuart Walker, Chair of the Cardiology Strategic Clinical Network and the External Review Team for producing a candid and constructive report into Cardiology services at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.

"RCHT and NHS Kernow jointly commissioned the External Service Review following concerns identified through routine governance procedures - specifically the identification of cardiology patients overdue for outpatient follow-up appointments or waiting for a planned cardiac investigation. The report has been published to show our absolute commitment to the principles of openness, transparency and learning.

"The External Review Team has made it clear that the Cardiology Service at RCHT is safe. However, it has made a number of recommendations to improve the quality, governance and functionality of the service which is being implemented in full.

"No-one should doubt our combined commitment to quality, probity and clinical partnership to provide the very best care. It is clear from the External Service Review that better multi-disciplinary working is required and our organisations will collaborate to deliver the report's recommendations so that we continue to improve the service for patients."

12:15pm 6th December 2013

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