Education And Debate

Bristol again(Very) short service on the Bristol inquiry

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7172.1577 (Published 05 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1577

Bristol again

This week we publish three further articles about the issues raised by the Bristol affair. The first, by Nick Barnes, is a personal account of his first being invited, and then having his invitation withdrawn, to join the public inquiry into the management of children receiving complex cardiac surgical services at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1984-95.

The next two pieces, one by Steve Bolsin, the “whistleblower” in the Bristol case, and the second by James Stewart, a parent of one of the affected children, respond to a previous article by Peter Dunn (24 October, p 1144)—as do three letters in our correspondence columns (pp 1592-3) and a personal view (p 1603).

We do not intend to conduct the public inquiry in the pages of the BMJ, but we are publishing these articles now because one raises questions about the composition of the inquiry panel and the others respond directly to Dunn's article: see also our editorial by Smith. We will report on the progress of the Bristol inquiry when it starts taking evidence next year.

(Very) short service on the Bristol inquiry

  1. Nick Barnes, consultant paediatrician (nickdelano@aol.com)
  1. Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ

    The following is an annotated extract from a personal journal of recent months. Events are recorded in normal type and contemporary thoughts and commentary in italics.

    June 1998

    The prolonged hearing of the disciplinary committee of the General Medical Council on the doctors charged with professional misconduct in the Bristol paediatric cardiac surgery unit concludes at last. The media coverage has been extensive, simplistic, and condemnatory. The cardiac surgeons, Mr James Wisheart and Mr Janardin Dhasmana, and the then chief executive of the trust, Dr John Roylance, are found guilty. They need police protection as they leave the hearing.

    I suppose all doctors must share the deep sympathy I feel for these men. I cannot remember meeting a single doctor who was not trying …

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