Vascular surgeons’ death rates revealed

Vascular surgery has been carried out at Lister Hospital in Stevenage

Vascular surgery has been carried out at Lister Hospital in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

A SURGEON who carries out complex operations at Lister Hospital in Stevenage has a death rate more than twice the national average.

Sadasivam Selvakumar, the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s most senior vascular surgeon, performed 93 elective operations relating to abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) between January 2008 and December 2012, with 5.4 per cent of procedures proving fatal.

The statistics were published by the NHS last week, revealing that the average mortality rate across the UK for vascular surgery – involving blood vessels – was 2.2 per cent.

Four other vascular surgeons at the Trust were listed in the report, although death rate statistics were only available for two of them as both had performed more than five procedures.

Michael Guest carried out 39 operations during the same five-year period, with none proving fatal. Matt Metcalfe also had no fatalities after six procedures.

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The report said that none of the 458 surgeons listed for AAA operations “had outcomes that differed from the national average by more than would be expected from random fluctuations alone”.

The Trust’s chief executive Nick Carver said: “Mr Selvakumar is one of the Trust’s more senior surgeons and is the longest standing member of the Trust’s vascular surgery consultant team. As such, he operates on a wider range of patients, many of whom will be the most complex presenting to the Trust’s hospitals.

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“We need to remember, that an abdominal aortic aneurysm is all but a silent killer. Swellings in the walls of aortic artery passing through the abdomen are always life-threatening but invariably symptomless. When discovered – and typically they occur in older men, who by that time in their life often have a range of other illnesses and conditions – they need to be operated on very quickly as the threat of dying is that great.

“Overall, the Trust’s mortality rate for AAA is within the ‘as expected’ range, which means that our vascular surgery is provided to a very high level.”

Mr Carver added that many of the Trust’s surgeons, including Mr Selvakumar, have been trained in keyhole surgery in the last couple of years which has resulted in Mr Selvakumar’s mortality rate dropping to 3.1 per cent – something not reflected in the data.

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