Essex Hospital Trust investigation into patient deaths after heart surgery

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for Basildon University Hospital, Southend University Hospital and Broomfield Hospital (in Chelmsford), has recently launched an investigation into the deaths of patients following open aortic abdominal aneurysm (AAA) surgery.

This alarming development has raised concerns about patient safety and the quality of care provided by the Hospital Trust.

In this article, we look into the details of the investigation and explain what we can do to help you if you or a loved one has been affected by this issue.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Surgery

An AAA is a potentially life-threatening condition in which there is a balloon-like swelling in the aorta, which is the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the abdomen, pelvis and legs. The swelling is caused by weakness and, should the aneurysm grow to more than 5.5cm, surgical intervention may be required to replace weakened sections of the aorta with a plastic tube (graft). While this surgery can be lifesaving, it carries risks and needs a high level of surgical expertise.

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust Investigation

The Hospital Trust has recently declared an ‘organisational serious incident’ after a higher number of their patients died following AAA surgery than would have been expected. Dr David Walker, chief medical officer at the Hospital Trust, has said that investigations are underway to ensure AAA services being offered to patients there are safe, and that lessons can be learned from post-operative deaths. The Hospital Trust has appointed an external investigator to lead the investigations, which may take in the region of 6 -12 months to complete.

Impact on Patients and Families

The implications extend beyond the Hospital Trust itself, affecting patients and their families who have undergone or are scheduled to have open AAA surgery. The uncertainty surrounding the investigation’s outcome and concerns for patient safety may cause significant distress and anxiety. 

It is vital that the Hospital Trust communicates openly and transparently with affected individuals, providing them with support and reassurance throughout the investigation process.

The Hospital Trust will then need to implement any necessary changes identified through the investigation and to rebuild trust and confidence in the care they are offering.

How Tees Can Help

If you or a family member has been affected by the issues raised in this article, you can get in touch with the medical negligence team at Tees who have specialist solicitors with many years of experience. 

We have dealt with numerous claims against Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, including claims relating to cardiac treatment.

If you would like to contact us, we will be able to give you free, confidential initial advice. We can discuss with you whether we can assist you in making a complaint or claim against Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust. We understand that, in addition to ultimately obtaining any financial settlement that you may be entitled to, it is also important to obtain explanations when there have been shortcomings in treatment, and we also appreciate the sensitivity required when the treatment in question has led to the loss of a loved one.

Chat to the Author, Natalie Pibworth

Senior Associate, Medical Negligence, Chelmsford office

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