Report highlights Portsmouth death rates for vascular surgery

DEFENCE Associate medical director and senior vascular surgeon Graham Sutton
DEFENCE Associate medical director and senior vascular surgeon Graham Sutton
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A SURGEON has defended Portsmouth’s hospitals after a national report showed it had a high death rate for certain patients.

Figures obtained by health organisation The Vascular Society showed six patients died after being operated on for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in Portsmouth’s hospitals between October 2008 and September 2010.

The operation by vascular surgeons, who are vein experts, treats patients who suffer swelling of a large vessel which takes blood to the stomach or legs.

In all 80 AAA operations were performed, giving Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust a mortality rate of 7.5 per cent. This is higher than Southampton, which carried out 134 operations, with a 1.5 per cent mortality rate.

But associate medical director and senior vascular surgeon Graham Sutton at QA said the 18-month-old figures did not look at whether AAA patients were dealing with other problems like heart disease, which can affect their chances of recovery.

In addition Southampton began a screening process to test for AAA, meaning fewer ‘at-risk’ patients were operated on. This screening has only recently been introduced in Portsmouth.

Mr Sutton said: ‘We welcome this report, which helps to improve patient outcomes – but it is 18 months out of date. It doesn’t take account of the risks of patients who may have other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or lung problems.

‘It also only looks at one aspect of the vascular service in Portsmouth.’

Figures for October 2010 to September 2011 show there were 58 operations and two deaths – a mortality rate of 3.4 per cent.

The hospital says that since December 2010, it has carried out three reviews and each time there were no safety concerns.

‘Quality, safety and outcomes remain our top priorities across all services and for all patients,’ added Mr Sutton.

‘We would like to reassure patients and their families they need not be worried by this report.’

Last month the primary care trust, Ship, which covers Portsmouth, delayed a decision that could have seen vascular surgeons from the city move to Southampton.