Ongoing ‘toxic’ feud between NHS surgeons at a scandal-hit heart unit which has seen them send dead animals to each other in the post is putting patients at risk, report warns

A culture of tribalism between surgeons at a scandal-hit heart unit impacted on patient care, according to a new report.

Hospital inspectors found staff at St George’s Hospital, south-west London, had ‘strong’ personalities which meant they were unable to work together effectively.

A ‘toxic feud’ between two rival camps was blamed for an increase in patient deaths earlier this year when it was revealed one surgeon was sent a dead animal and a decapitated doll in the post as the row escalated.

And the latest inspection found that bullying and harassment between surgical, anesthetic and intensive care teams had a negative impact on the effective running of the unit.

Staff were even given mediation to try and resolve their issues, but the effects were short-lasting and their ‘poor behaviour’ soon resumed.

Health inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have now ordered immediate action to improve services at the cardiac surgery unit, whose leadership was described as ‘weak’.

 Staff told CQC inspectors that the cardiac surgical team ‘had not worked effectively for several years’.

Inspectors wrote: ‘Consultants did not work collaboratively, share responsibility or resolve conflict in a constructive and timely manner.

‘There were high levels of mistrust amongst clinical colleagues which contributed to the poor culture within the service.

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