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GMC president: 'We let parents down'
Bristol flowers
The Bristol scandal provoked high emotions
The president of the General Medical Council has admitted he feels personal responsibility for the way the medical profession let down the Bristol heart baby parents.

Sir Donald Irvine's comments come days before the long-awaited publication of the report of the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry.

It is expected to contain recommendations that will have a profound impact on the future running of the NHS.

Sir Donald led the GMC investigation into the scandal in 1998.

Sir Donald Irvine
Sir Donald Irvine admits the GMC should have done better
It focussed on high death rates among children who underwent heart surgery at the hospital.

Three doctors at the hospital being found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Heart surgeon James Wisheart and hospital trust chief executive John Roylance were struck off, and another surgeon, Janardan Dhasmana, was banned from operating on children for three years.

Flawed system

In an interview with the Bristol Evening Post published on Friday, Sir Donald conceded that the system of regulation was flawed and apologised to parents whose children died or suffered brain damage.


The profession has to accept some collective responsibility

Sir Donald Irvine
He said: "I do feel I have let them down in the sense that the regulatory system has failed and people have been hurt.

"The profession, of which the GMC is an important part, has to accept some collective responsibility for that. I accept that and I am very sorry about what has happened.

"We have to be honest and truthful about it and recognise that something has got to be done."

However, Sir Donald stressed that there were limits to what the GMC could do the prevent such scandals happening again.

He said: "We do not run the NHS. We do not run private hospitals.

"Our business is to give guidance and to make that explicitly clear.

"Inevitably, you can never say this will never happen again. But a huge amount of work has already been done.

"I think the key thing is that even if some of the systems aren't in place people are far more alert now."

Full coverage of the Bristol heart babies inquiry report

Government response

Key stories

Key figures

Parents' stories

Background briefing

Analysis

Bristol year by year
See also:

05 Jul 01 | Health
09 Feb 00 | Health
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