Friday, June 19, 1998 Published at 06:42 GMT 07:42 UK
Dobson: GMC should have struck off third doctor
Frank Dobson plans to reclaim merit payments made to the doctors
The health secretary says the General Medical Council made a mistake by allowing one of the surgeons in the Bristol babies scandal to continue operating on adults.
In addition, Frank Dobson told the BBC he would use his power to remove merit payments of up to £50,000 made to the other two doctors in the case.
Merit payments are appointed by the central Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards for 'outstanding work of wider benefit to the NHS'. The committee acts on behalf of the Health Secretary. Around 12% of practising consultants hold a merit award.
He added: "I believe I could take them away if they were still at work, so I don't see why I can't take them away now.
Mr Dobson immediately announced a public inquiry after the GMC ruled on Thursday that James Wisheart, and John Roylance should be struck off - banning them from practising medicine.
On Newsnight, he made it clear he was far from satisfied by the outcome of the council's investigation.
He was then asked if it followed from his answer that he thought the GMC had made a mistake. "Yes," Mr Dobson said.
He added: "From what I know of the evidence, if they struck off two of the doctors, they should have struck off all three."
'Cardiologists reluctant to refer to Bristol'
After the longest hearing of its kind, many questions still remain about how the three doctors were able to continue operating despite their unusually high failure rate.
She wrote to Newsnight, stating: "... at many of our District Health Authority reviews we found a reluctance to encourage referral by their cardiologists to the Bristol Royal Infirmary ... because of, and I quote, 'unsatisfactory outcomes'."
She added that she had "considerable concerns" about pressure from the Department of Health and local authorities to expand cardiac treatment at the hospital.
She claimed: "... the civil servants were hell bent on the numbers game - they weren't bothered about the outcome of the operations ... they just wanted to be able to quote a big increase in the number of operations being undertaken."
Whistleblower: 'Conspiracy and cover-up'
The doctor who first drew attention to the high death rates among children undergoing heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary also attacked the "despicable" delay in dealing with the scandal.
"One of the despicable components of the whole affair was what allowed them to carry on.
"I think that had we taken some kind of survey or review or looked at the results in more detail and done something with that information, then an awful lot of children wouldn't have lost their lives."