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BBC Scotland's Alan Grant reports
"A special task force is to be sent in to examine the running of Tayside University Hospitals Trust "
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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 20:04 GMT
Budget crisis hits heart unit plan

Operation Tayside had hoped to establish a heart surgery unit

A 12m cash crisis has forced a Scottish health trust to scrap plans for a new cardiac surgery unit.

Patients requiring essential heart operations in Tayside will now be sent to the private HCI hospital in Clydebank.

Health minister Susan Deacon has announced a task force to look into the running of Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust .

Susan Deacon Susan Deacon is sending in a task force
She said: "In recent months the public of Tayside have been fed a diet of confusion and anxiety around the funding of the health service and around the future of services, and I want to act to turn that situation around.

"The people of Tayside need to have confidence in the management of their local health services and that's what I'm determined to do."

The Trust had hoped to establish a heart surgery unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee in an attempt to relieve spiralling waiting lists.

Tayside, which inherited the 12m debt in a reorganisation of the area's trusts last April, said creating the new unit was not a realistic option at the moment.

Missed target

A spokesman said the delay in establishing the unit would mean the trust would not be able to meet the demand for coronary artery by-pass grafts this year.

The trust will fall 60 short of the target of 250 patients a year to whom by-pass surgery is offered.

Ninewells The unit would have been at Ninewells Hospital
Patients requiring cardiac surgery have traditionally been sent to NHS hospitals in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen.

However, the spokesman said that Edinburgh and Glasgow were operating at full capacity, while Aberdeen was considered too risky after one patient contracted hepatitis following open-heart surgery last year.

He said the decision to send patients to the private HCI hospital was "motivated entirely by the interests of Tayside heart patients".

Waiting lists growing

By the end of next month, the trust's waiting lists will have spiralled beyond the government's targets by nearly 3,000 patients.

More than 9,400 people will be on the trust's books waiting for treatment compared to the target of 6,864 set by health directors.

Chief executive Paul White said they would use the statistics to lobby the government for extra funding to tackle their waiting lists, but they were also attempting to increase the number of outpatients to cut costs.

Some hospital wards have already been closed and surgeons' operating sessions have also been cut in an effort to save money.

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See also:
14 Jun 99 |  Health
'Urgent' heart inquiry demand
14 Feb 00 |  Health
Government 'spins NHS funding pledges'

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