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Observations BMJ Confidential

Stephen Bolsin: Whistleblower on the Bristol scandal

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 09 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1328


Stephen Bolsin, 63, is the gnawing conscience of the NHS in England, the man who blew the whistle on failings in paediatric heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary and was rewarded with the sound of slamming doors. An anaesthetist appointed as a consultant in Bristol in 1988, Bolsin recognised and tried to remedy failings in the service, finally turning whistleblower. This led to the Kennedy inquiry, which vindicated his concerns and was a landmark in clinical governance. He subsequently found it impossible to find another position in the UK and moved to Australia, where he became director of critical care services at Geelong Hospital in Victoria, achieving world class outcomes with the adult cardiac anaesthetic service he started. He has honorary professorial positions at Monash and Melbourne Universities.

What was your earliest ambition?

To drive steam engines.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My parents were both inspirational people. They met as Christian missionaries in India just after the partition, and their courage, compassion, and honesty made them role models.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

Accepting the position of consultant cardiac anaesthetist at Bristol …

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