A heart patient may have died as a result of delays in treatment at the cardiology department of one of the Westcountry’s leading hospitals, the trust that runs it has confirmed.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) was commenting after an external review in to the cardiology service at Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
A report, published yesterday, made 41 recommendations on how to improve the service which it labelled “somewhat dysfunctional” but safe.
The review was commissioned in September after concerns were raised about the high number of patients waiting for treatment in the trust.
At the height of problems in June, 811 patients were overdue for review or treatment at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT).
A consultant cardiologist in the department was later put on restricted duties, with the trust revealing the report was to also include a critical incident investigation following concerns that a delay in diagnosis had harmed a patient’s outcome.
RCHT director Any Virr said the trust was investigating if any delays caused the death.
Dr Virr, the director of medicine, said managers were "concerned" that one patient's death "was caused by the delay".
He said: "That's why we've highlighted it and are investigating it."
In a joint statement with Dr Andy May, clinical leader for elective care, he added the trust would implement the list of recommendations in full.
He said: “The external review team has made it clear that the cardiology service at RCHT is safe.
“However, it has made a number of recommendations to improve the quality, governance and functionality of the service which is being implemented in full.
“No-one should doubt our combined commitment to quality, probity and clinical partnership to provide the very best care.
“It is clear from the external service review that better multi-disciplinary working is required and our organisations will collaborate to deliver the report’s recommendations so that we continue to improve the service for patients.”
The recommendations in the report included a workforce review with future workload projections taken in to consideration.
The trust said all heart patients on its waiting lists had been seen and that the report had been published to show its absolute commitment to openness, transparency and learning.
A heart specialist was put on restricted duties by the trust in September after “potential concerns” were raised through routine screening.
The hospital declared a “black incident” in early October following a bed-blocking crisis which meant 43 elective operations were cancelled in two weeks, 17 of them on October 7.