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Bristol whistle-blower speaks out
Bristol babies
The Bristol Inquiry report is expected on Wednesday
The doctor who blew the whistle on the Bristol heart babies scandal said he was forced to emigrate following threats and discrimination.

Anaesthetist Professor Stephen Bolsin was the first to draw official attention to the problems at Bristol.

He tried first to raise his concerns with colleagues, but when these were ignored he took his worries about the deaths of 29 babies and children at the Bristol Royal Infirmary to the department of health.

But he said his decision to go public had led to him being forced out of the Bristol Royal Infirmary and having to move to Australia, where he is now Head of Anaesthesia at the Geelong Hospital, near Melbourne, Australia.


No medical or non-medical professional in the NHS should have to endure the threats and discrimination that I was subjected to in Bristol

Professor Stephen Bolsin

Poor treatment

Speaking ahead of the inquiry report Professor Bolsin said: "I would like to confirm that I and my family are living and working in Australia as a direct result of the treatment I received in Bristol after criticising the conduct of paediatric cardiac surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

"No medical or non-medical professional in the NHS should have to endure the threats and discrimination that I was subjected to in Bristol.

"We went through this awful episode as a family and we have survived it as a family.

"I would like to extend my deepest sympathy and apologies to the families of those children who died or were permanently harmed after undergoing paediatric cardiac surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

"No actions can adequately compensate for the suffering they have endured and I hope that the publication of the report will help to heal their wounds."

Dr Stephen Bolsin
Dr Bolsin says he was ignored by senior staff

Professor Bolsin left the BRI in 1995 after Mr Dhasmana was allowed to go ahead with an operation on 18-month-old baby Joshua Loveday.

He said he had tried to stop the operation because he was so worried about Mr Dhasmana's ability.

And that he and his wife, who worked as a nurse at the BRI, had even talked about telling Joshua's parents to seek a second opinion before allowing the operation to go ahead.

It was Joshua's death that prompted the hospital authorities to investigate the unit.

GMC case

Professor Bolsin's audit of operations carried out by surgeons James Wisheart and Janardan Dhasmana was used as a key part of the General Medical Council's case, which led to the two being found guilty of serious professional misconduct in 1998.

The GMC case led to the setting up of the public inquiry into the scandal.

The long awaited report, due to be published on Wednesday, is expected to criticise an NHS-wide culture which allowed surgeons to continue practising despite concerns about the high death rates at the hospital.

Professor Bolsin said he hoped the Bristol report would ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

"My earnest hope is that the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry Report will lead to a genuine commitment on the part of the medical profession in the United Kingdom to implement policies to enable the monitoring of professional practice in all specialities."

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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