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The Bristol heart babies Monday, 4 October, 1999, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Bristol whistleblower offers evidence via video
Bolsin
Dr Stephen Bolsin left the UK over the scandal
A doctor whose evidence is central to the public inquiry into paediatric heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary is expected to give his evidence over a video-conference link from Australia.

The Bristol Heart Babies
The use of the technology is thought to be a first for a UK public inquiry.

Consultant anaesthetist Dr Stephen Bolsin is seen as the key whistleblower who brought the unusually high death rates at the hospital under scrutiny.

He claims that after he spoke up he was unable to continue working in the NHS and now works in a hospital at Geelong, near Melbourne.

Although the inquiry offered to pay Dr Bolsin's air fare, he was unable to meet its schedule.

Dossier

Brian Langstaff, senior counsel for the inquiry, said: "This inquiry regards his (Dr Bolsin's) evidence as being of very considerable importance and likely to be very helpful to us."

Dr Bolsin joined the Bristol hospital in 1988 and carried out an audit of work in its cardiac unit. His findings formed part of a dossier he later presented to a Department of Health official.

He called for action, as he was alarmed at the high death rate among babies undergoing complex heart surgery at the unit.

Richard Lissack QC, who represents the Bristol Heart Children's Action Group, has alleged the Department of Health, the Royal College of Surgeons and the hospital management covered up the scandal from 1992 to 1995, when it was finally exposed.

Technology plays part in inquiry

No date has yet been set for when Dr Bolsin might give his evidence, although it is likely to be some time in the middle of next month.

The inquiry has embraced advances in communications to widen its reach.

Video links already relay proceedings to community centres in the south west of England, transcripts of each day's evidence are published on the Internet and submissions are invited through the inquiry's Website.

See also:

08 Jun 98 | The Bristol heart babies
21 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
23 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
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