University Hospital of Wales heart surgery improving say surgeons

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Media captionLast year the Royal College of Surgeons said heart patients at the hospital were waiting too long for operations

Surgeons say progress is being made at Wales' biggest hospital where patients have died waiting for heart surgery.

The BBC revealed in July that the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) had called the situation at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales where 12 patients died over 15 months "dangerous".

In a follow up visit, the RCS said there was still substantial work but improvements had been made.

The local health board confirmed plans to invest £2.5m tackling waiting lists.

During their visit, members of the RCS found there were still problems at the hospital.

One of the biggest concerns was that those needing treatment had been left waiting so long that their condition had got significantly worse - needing more complex surgery.

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Media captionAnthony Parry talks about his eight month wait for a triple heart bypass

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it was tackling problems by:

  • Recruiting extra medical and nursing staff
  • Introducing weekend working
  • Ring-fencing surgical beds
  • Investing £1.3m to replace critical cardiac theatre equipment
  • Using services elsewhere - including sending patients on the list a private clinic - to tackle long waiting lists for heart surgery.

Medical director Dr Graham Shortland, said: "Things have moved on considerably.

"However, we do know that there is still much to do and we are only at the start of delivering our ambitious proposals."

Hospital improvements

  • A 25% drop in the number of people waiting 36 weeks for surgery over the last 12 months.
  • The number of operations delayed due to a lack of beds in January 2013 was 547 - this year the figure fell to 40.
  • An improvement in the number of people seen at the emergency unit within four hours.
  • Source: Cardiff and Vale UHB

The hospital aims to increase the number of heart surgery procedures from 900 to 1,100 a year, and 1,300 in the longer term, with extra staff and cardiac intensive care beds.

David Ward, RCS vice president, said the hospital had taken concerns seriously and "a number of improvements have already been made".

"We would like to work with NHS leaders to see the long-term plan to increase capacity for cardiac surgery developed as soon as possible, helping deliver high quality care for patients where and when they require it," he added.

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