Patients needing complex heart surgery at a London hospital are to be temporarily moved to other hospitals to “enable improvements to be made”, bosses say.
Managers at St George’s Hospital in Tooting say the number of people affected is likely to be “small”.
They said on Monday that the decision has been taken to allow the hospital’s cardiac surgery service to “focus” on “improvement actions required”.
Earlier this month bosses at St George’s said they had asked external regulators to oversee work being done to deal with “long-standing issues” relating to the cardiac surgical service.
They said they wanted “oversight” from outside.
The hospital recently hit the headlines after bosses became embroiled in litigation with one of their heart surgeons.
Managers excluded Professor Marjan Jahangiri pending a disciplinary investigation after a “bullying” allegation.
A High Court judge, in late August, described the move as “irrational”.
Mr Justice Nicklin, who analysed issues at a High Court hearing in London, said Professor Jahangiri should be allowed to return.
Professor Jahangiri has complained of a breach of contract and litigation is continuing.
The judge was told that bosses were concerned about the working relationship between the six heart surgeons in the unit, and about an “allegedly dysfunctional environment”.
“St George’s Hospital is temporarily moving the surgical care of a small number of patients requiring the most complex cardiac surgery to other London hospitals to enable improvements to be made,” said a hospital spokeswoman on Monday.
“The number of St George’s patients likely to be affected by this decision is small.”
She added: “The decision has been taken in order to allow the cardiac surgery service to focus on the improvement actions required, and in response to feedback from clinicians working in the service.”
The spokeswoman went on, in a statement: “It is important to state that routine cardiac surgery at St George’s will continue as normal.”
Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive of the St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have taken this decision to maintain patient safety, and to protect the long-term future of our cardiac surgery service. It also follows feedback this week from our clinicians.”
She added: “I would like to apologise to the very small number of patients for whom today’s decision may naturally cause some concern.”