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I'm not perfect, says Bristol surgeon
James Wisheart
James Wisheart: I have done my best
James Wisheart, the surgeon at the centre of the Bristol babies scandal has given his first media interview, telling the BBC "I have never claimed to be perfect".

The former medical director at Bristol Royal Infirmary, was struck off for serious professional misconduct last year after the General Medical Council heard that complex heart operations on babies were continued despite warnings from other doctors about high mortality rates.

Mr Wisheart told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the babies who died suffered from serious conditions and most had additional complications. He believed he would be vindicated in time.

"I have never claimed to be perfect," he said. "But I have done my best. I believe I have produced acceptable results. I believe in time the record will show that."


I believe I have produced acceptable results. I believe in time the record will show that

James Wisheart
Asked about the final death that led to the GMC investigation and the public inquiry which has now competed taking oral evidence, Mr Wisheart said everybody in the surgical team had agreed it was appropriate for surgeon Mr Janardan Dhasmana to carry out the operation on 18-month-old Joshua Loveday.

Joshua died on the operating table and Mr Dhasmana was later banned from operating on children for three years by the GMC.

When asked if he would have let Mr Dhasmana operate on his own child, Mr Wisheart paused and then said: "It is a difficult question, which journalists sometimes ask. I had great confidence in Mr Dhasmana as a surgeon."

But, with hindsight, he said he should have discussed his own performance with other doctors.

James Wisheart
James Wisheart: I have never claimed to be perfect
"Later in the series, I should have sat down with my colleagues to review it and get their advice because in continuing, I was depending on my own judgement, which I still think to be perfectly acceptable judgement."

The concept of a "learning curve" was inevitable for surgeons. "It is a fact of life that any surgeon starting a new operation will learn from his experience," he said.

Asked if the babies would have had a better chance of survival if they had been operated on elsewhere, he said: "Nobody can say whether they would have or they would have not."

Following Mr Wisheart's interview, Maria Shortis, of the Bristol Heart Action Group, whose nine-week-old baby girl died after being operated on by Mr Dhasmana, told the BBC: "When he was asked whether Joshua Loveday had been his child, would he have let him operate on him, noticeably Mr Wisheart hesitated for a long time. This is very significant.

"They have privileged information, they know where to send their children for the best care. The best care was not available in Bristol. Doctors are not policing themselves and nobody else is."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
James Wisheart
" I have done my best and I believe I have produced acceptable results"
The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Mr Wisheart was responsible for surgical quality"
Maria Shortis, Bristol Heart Children Action Group
"There needs to be a system of internal validation in the UK"
See also:

02 Dec 99 | Health
13 Dec 99 | Health
15 Dec 99 | Health
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