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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 14:28 GMT
'Our children didn't die in vain'
Parents campaigned for action to prevent the Bristol scandal happening again
Parents campaigned for action
The parents of children who died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary have said they hope reform of the NHS will mean their children did not die in vain.

They welcomed the government's response to the Kennedy report into the scandal at Bristol Royal Infirmary which said up to 35 babies died "unnecessarily" in the mid 1990s.

One of the measures to be brought is the publication of individual cardiac surgeon's death rates.

Maria Shortis, whose daughter Jacinta died at Bristol, said the report formed part of a legacy for the children.

Maria Shortis: hopes children did not die in vain
Maria Shortis: hopes children did not die in vain
"Our children hopefully haven't died in vain. Mr Milburn has gone some way to ensuring that the NHS now is more focused on patients."

But she added she didn't think the system was yet in place to prevent another tragedy.

"I'm not hearing anything about commitment to resourcing.

"Healthcare professionals need to be helped in creating a greater openness within the culture of the NHS, but the resources have to be placed there and Mr Milburn has not given any commitment to that."

Photographs and memories

Trevor Jones' daughter Bethany died aged two after a hole in the heart operation at Bristol.

He said until now the only way the families had been able to remember their children was though photographs and memories.

Trevor Jones: 'money has to follow words'
Trevor Jones: 'money has to follow words'
But he added: "This is another thing to remember them by. This is our legacy.

"I hope these reforms continue. It's the beginning, it's not the end."

But he echoed Ms Shortis's concerns that no money had been made available to finance the reforms.

"Resources have to be made available for what he's saying.

"He has to put his money where his mouth is."

Time for this report

Steve Parker chairman of the Bristol Heart Children's Action Group welcomed the government's report.

His partner Diana Hill lost her 10-month-old daughter Jessica in 1989 after an operation at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

He said: "It is needed. It's time we had an health service where people are not worried about whether their doctors are up to scratch and whether the systems are in place to make sure they're up to scratch."

Steve Parker: 'This is needed'
Steve Parker: 'This is needed'
He added that he hoped the recommendations made in Professor Ian Kennedy's original report in the Bristol scandal were implemented "in full".

He said he was "not delighted" for plans tables to monitor the performance of surgeons but said there was no alternative if the Bristol scandal was not to be repeated.

"You need to be able to turn to some figures somewhere - there is no other mechanism to monitor what is going on.

"Closed systems have failed. It is time to give openness and accountability a chance. If we do not have openness now, we have lost the battle already."

He added: "League tables are never going to be perfect but we should be concerning ourselves with making sure that clinical standards meet the minimum requirement.

"That is all we can expect."


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Parents' stories

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Bristol year by year
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