Alder Hey Hospital paediatric surgery no longer 'world class'

Alder Hey Hospital sign
Image caption The children's hospital is one of the largest of its kind in Europe

Surgery at Liverpool's Alder Hey children's hospital is no longer "world class", a report by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has found.

The RCS was asked by the hospital to carry out a review of 20 cases in the paediatric surgery department after two whistle-blowers raised concerns.

Reviewers visited Alder Hey in May and found it had a "safe surgical service" but was no longer a "national leader".

The trust said it was taking action to address the report's findings.

In five out of the 20 cases reviewed by the RCS, over a six-year period, the care was "sub-optimal, or clinical governance appears to have been weak", the report found.

It found there was a discrepancy between "Alder Hey's aspiration to be a world-class centre for paediatric surgery, and the standards that it currently achieves".

Strategic plan

"In the view of the panel, Alder Hey is not at the present time attaining world-class standards of care or world-class standards of research in the department of paediatric surgery," it said.

"Although it has been acknowledged to be a national leader in the past, on the evidence that the panel reviewed relating to clinical case management, clinical governance and research output, the department would not merit such a ranking today."

It said the course of action the hospital trust chose to take to resolve the issues would depend upon its "true aspirations, a realistic assessment of its present circumstances, and the scale of the resources that are available to it to support its ambitions".

The children's hospital - one of the largest of its kind in Europe - receives referrals from hospitals across the country.

The paediatric surgery department, which incorporates neonatal surgery, general surgery and urology, treats about 4,500 children each year.

RCS reviewers recommended the trust and university leaders "review the strategic aims of their partnerships, their joint strategic plan and the resources they have in place for meeting them".

Recommendations 'helpful'

They also recommended the department focus more on working as part of the wider trust.

They made 22 other recommendations including providing more individual support to consultants, reviewing its consent practices and improving written records.

The RCS suggested the recommendations were achieved within six months of the report, which the hospital received in August.

Louise Shepherd, Chief Executive at Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The safety of the children in our care is our highest priority.

"We are pleased that the review concluded that clinical standards of surgical practice were within UK acceptable standards and that we provide a safe surgical service at Alder Hey."

She said the report's recommendations were "helpful" and the trust had started "putting actions in place to ensure Alder Hey continues to be a leading children's trust".

She added: "We will continue to subject ourselves to rigorous scrutiny to continue to provide the best care for children and young people at Alder Hey."

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