A new survey has shown a wide disparity between the success rates of major artery surgery at NHS hospitals across the UK.
The audit, published by the Royal College of Surgeons, compares the results of a standard surgical procedure called abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), used to repair a blood vessel in danger of rupturing.
Since most people who suffer a ruptured blood vessel die, those at risk are offered screenings and booked in for a planned operation. Whilst there is still a risk of death in planned AAA operations, it has fallen from 7.9 per cent to 2.4 per cent overall in the past 4 years.
However, the audit showed that patients are twice as likely to die during AAA operations at a hospital that rarely performs the procedure, than at one where surgeons perform them regularly.
The average mortality rate in low volume hospitals was 4.45 per cent, but just 1.9 per cent in the highest volume hospitals.
The best UK hospitals had a large number of AAA patients and achieved low death rates. St George’s Hospital in London performed 239 AAA operations over 2 years with only a 0.8 per cent mortality rate.
However, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trusts had a death rate of 20 per cent, with 3 deaths from 15 operations. United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS trust had a 12.8 per cent death rate with 5 deaths from 39 operations, but the data collection was graded poor.
The Royal College of Surgeons has concluded that elective AAA surgery should be provided in fewer, more specialist units to lower the risk of death- audits like this are increasingly showing that it is safer to go into hospitals with specialised services.
Spire Healthcare offers AAA screenings and operations at a number of private hospitals across the UK.
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