Hospital probing deaths of children
A leading hospital is investigating the deaths of four children who underwent heart operations there in recent months.
The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, has suspended children's cardiac surgery until the investigation has been concluded.
Parents of 26 children due to undergo operations at the Children's Hospital based there are currently being contacted. Those who need urgent treatment are to be transferred elsewhere.
The deaths of the "very sick children" happened either during or after surgery. The hospital is yet to release further details about the fatalities.
The Oxford hospital has been subject to investigations in the past over the number of deaths linked to such surgery in adults, with concerns raised on a number of occasions.
In a 2007 report into care at the hospital between 2002 and 2005, the Healthcare Commission said improvements were needed.
It highlighted issues over data collection, saying: "Bearing in mind the history of the cardiac unit at Oxford, and the number of questions about the trust's rates of mortality, there had been a surprising lack of robust processes to validate and cross check the completeness and quality of its data."
That investigation was originally sparked by concerns about the then rates of child fatalities in the cardiac unit, raised in an article in the 'British Medical Journal'.
An investigation was launched but there were found to be no abnormalities in that field.
The hospital had earlier come under scrutiny for its adult heart surgery in the late 1990s when an external review was ordered by the NHS regional office Its 2000 report from the Healthcare Commission criticised "many aspects of the service".