South West Wales

Morriston hospital staff rift intolerable, says report

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Media captionAn outside team was called in to look at 'longstanding problems'

A rift involving staff at a hospital's cardiac unit has created "intolerable" working conditions and affected patients, says a hard-hitting report.

The number of patients at Swansea's Morriston Hospital who have died while waiting for surgery was described as "deeply unsatisfactory".

An outside team was called in to look at "longstanding problems".

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board apologised and pledged to implement changes.

The independent review panel said some practices needed to be stopped at once and that problems such as low staff morale, intolerable working conditions and the lack of teamwork had an effect on patient care.

The expert group heard complaints from staff that they were bullied by surgeons, demoralised and at breaking point.

Some of the issues are likely to have led to patients waiting longer for lifesaving surgery, the review said.

A total of 34 recommendations have been made for improvements.

The report added: "Staff complained of bullying and abuse by surgeons, long and pressured working hours, inequitable payment arrangements and perceived lack of leadership which all contribute to this.

"High turnover, high sickness and low morale are the inevitable outcomes."

The review was presented to a health board meeting on Thursday along with a plan outlining action.

Deep-rooted problems

Health board chief executive Paul Roberts said: "The Cardiac Surgery Service at Morriston Hospital has provided excellent care for many patients since it opened in 1997, and continues to do so.

"However, we commissioned the external review because of some deep-rooted, long-term problems within the service which we want tackled once and for all. We are determined to do so.

"Our patients deserve the best possible cardiac surgery service, and I sincerely apologise that these long-term issues have not been resolved much earlier.

"I want to give assurances that changes are being put in place immediately to ensure the Cardiac Surgery Service provides patients with the best quality care it can."

The health board's action plan includes:

  • Developing a more open and positive culture, ensuring zero tolerance over bullying or abusive behaviour
  • Developing plans to expand capacity for cardiac surgery
  • Implementing clinical systems to improve decision making about patient care including end-of-life decisions for very sick patients
  • Developing medical and nursing workforce plans for intensive care and anaesthetic support
  • Appointing a clinician as a director for the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit to manage the care of patients
  • Establishing a management team for cardiac surgery which comprises the leads for each of the professional groups and services involved

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