Surgery suspension at Oxford hospital to continue

A suspension of children's heart surgery at Oxford's John Radcliffe (JR) Hospital is set to continue for at least another six months.

Surgery was suspended in March after four children died between last December and February 2010.

The future of the unit, along with ten others in the UK, is now being reviewed by an NHS group.

The hospital has confirmed the suspension will not be lifted until the report is published in mid-2011.

Before the suspension, about 100 operations were performed every year at the Oxford unit.

Sir Jonathan Michael, Chief Executive of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "The Oxford Radcliffe Hospital has acknowledged that it would not be right to restart children's heart surgery with one surgeon.

"And until the review is completed we are not in a position to make any decisions about taking on a new children's heart surgeon in Oxford."

Mortality rates

The National Specialised Commissioning Group is assessing 11 centres across the UK and said it needs extra time to analyse mortality rates at four of the units, including the JR.

A spokesperson for National Specialised Commissioning Group said the other units in question were in Leeds, Leicester and London.

"The difference between expected mortality and observed mortality was statistically significant."

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