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Bristol: Parents' reaction
The long-awaited report of the inquiry into the Bristol heart babies scandal has been published BBC News Online gets the parents' reaction.

Maria Shortis whose nine-week old baby Jacinta died undergoing heart surgery at Bristol.

Mrs Shortis paid tribute to former Health Secretary Frank Dobson and to Dr Stephen Bolsin for their part in bringing the Bristol scandal to light.

Maria Shortis
Maria Shortis's daughter Jacinta died at Bristol

She said: "The report certainly demonstrates the need for a radical transformation due to the systemic failure of the NHS, that allowed Bristol to develop into an avoidable tragedy.

"I think the report has thoroughly gone through the story of Bristol in terms of the way in which the culture allowed our children to die or be brain damaged."

She said that there were no systems in place to ensure that Bristol would not happen again and to ensure patient consent and clinical accountability, but said she hoped these would soon be in place.

She said Constructive Dialogue for Clinical Accountability, of which she was the first chair, would be studying the report closely over the summer.

Trevor Jones, of the Bristol Heart Children's Action Group, lost his two-year-old daughter Bethany at Bristol.

He said the publication of the report had been a "very traumatic" for all the families concerned, but he said that the report addressed many serious issues.

And that he hoped it would ensure that another Bristol never happened again.

Trevor Jones
Trevor Jones' daughter Bethany died at Bristol

"We have been vindicated.

"I am pleased for the parents that there has not been a whitewash and that there have been serious recommendations and that the parents efforts have been acknowledged not only by Professor Kennedy, but by the government."

But he said it was important that the report moved things on and did not just dwell in the past.

"We have to move away from a culture of blame. We have to move ahead."

He stressed that the age of paternalism among doctors was dead.

"This is the end of the age of the doctor is right. We have to now question and get correct answers on doctors' ability and performance.

"I think this report is a significant step in achieving that."

Steve Parker, Chairman of the Bristol Heart Children Action Group whose partner Diana Hill lost her daughter Jessica in 1989 after an operation by Mr Dhasmana, aged 10 months.

Steve Parker whose partner Diana Hill lost her daughter Jessica in 1989

Mr Parker said he hoped that Mr Milburn would give the families representatives funding to ensure their legal team can thoroughly investigate the report.

He said that they needed to study the report more closely, but said that it was welcomed by the families of the Bristol babies.

He said: "We welcome this report it does clearly vindicate all the families concerns.

"We are very pleased with the outcome. It is a shame it has taken so long and cost so many children's lives.

"This inquiry has not included all the families we represent.

"Unfortunately it will never provide answers for them at this stage.

"It is so easy for families who are victims of the system to remain victims afterwards, but the families do not want this to happen to anyone else, if that is the only good thing to come out of this."

Laurence Vick, a solicitor representing many of the Bristol families.

"The report was wide-ranging and was as hard-hitting as we had hoped.

"Some of the families will feel that certain individuals should have been singled out for more criticism.

"And some will feel that not all the issues we expected them to cover have been dealt with.

"But we hope parents can take some comfort from this report."

He said that although many parents were still seeking compensation for what had happened that about 100 had already settled, receiving 20,000.

But he stressed that in only one of the cases in which a child died had the hospital admitted liability.

James Stewart, whose son Ian suffered brain damage after an operation at the hospital in 1993.

Mr Stewart criticised the report for failing to address the question of brain damaged children like his son and said he would have liked to have seen blame apportioned.

"I was interested that the chairman admitted that they never got to the bottom of the brain damage question. I was very disappointed.

"The inquiry has swept a lot of important issues under the carpet. I am deeply disappointed with everything that has gone on.

"I feel very betrayed. I feel that the people of Britain have been betrayed.

"There will be benefits from the report, but for the true benefits to come out a cultural change is required.

"They should have brought everything out.

"Unfortunately blame should be allocated because a lot of people could have done something about it and did not."

Julia Johnson, whose son Max died at Bristol aged seven month, following an operation by Mr Dhasmana

She said that the findings of the report were still sinking in.

"Overall I'm really pleased, but nothing has come out that we didn't really know already as parents."

Brenda Rex, whose son Steven died in 1986, aged just 10 weeks.

"We know Professor Kennedy has actually listened to what we said. I really do think he did.

"It's difficult to put it into perspective at the moment as there's a lot to take in, but we are broadly pleased."

Full coverage of the Bristol heart babies inquiry report

Government response

Key stories

Key figures

Parents' stories

Background briefing


Bristol year by year
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18 Jul 01 | Health
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