An ongoing dispute at St George's cardiac unit has reportedly cost the surgical unit £11 million, according to an article published in the Health Service Journal (HSJ)

Referrals to the unit have stopped since September after a review of the service and a dispute between surgeons and management. 

In the HSJ report, it was highlighted that one surgeon, who managed to get her suspension overturned following a legal case, alleged that she was subject to personal abuse including a "dead animal posted to her address", during the dispute..

The St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust finance director, Andrew Grimshaw, is reported to have told a meeting of the hospital trust board that the trust’s end-of-year deficit increased "from £33m to £55.6m, and that roughly half of this was from disruption to the cardiac work".

Most of the difference was reportedly said to have come from loss of income, as well as the extra cost of hiring temporary replacement staff.

The service is now under scrutiny by a panel brought in by NHS Improvement, which will look into whether more deaths may have occurred than expected between 2013 and 2018.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust had temporarily managed the service, which continues to be supported by staff of GSTT and King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust.

The Bewick Review, an external investigation into the service published last year, found there was "deep dysfunction" within the heart surgery team and warned the service could be lost entirely if steps were not taken to reform the consultant team.

A St George's spokesperson said: "We have taken proactive steps to address the long-standing issues within our cardiac surgery department. 

"As part of this, we took the decision in September to temporarily transfer the most complex cardiac surgery operations to other hospitals – and this arrangement is still in place. 

"This has led to a temporary loss of income, as hospitals are paid for operations they carry out– but, crucially, the cardiac surgery service we provide is safe, and this was confirmed by the Care Quality Commission during their inspection visit of the service last year."