BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Health: Background Briefings: The Bristol heart babies  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Background Briefings
Medical notes
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
The Bristol heart babies Tuesday, 19 October, 1999, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Coroner in the dark on organ retention
Still from living proof 20.10.99 'Born Twice'
If a baby dies during or after surgery it will often lead to an inquest
The coroner who presided over many inquests following deaths at Bristol Royal Infirmary says he knew nothing about the hospital keeping organs for research or teaching.

The Bristol Heart Babies
Paul Forrest, Avon district coroner since 1992, also told the Bristol babies public inquiry that he wanted to see the British coroners' rules overhauled.

He said the rules governing inquests, set up in the last century, caused extra distress to grieving relatives and even confused experienced lawyers.

Coroners, he said, had no powers to investigate some of the most important questions posed by sudden deaths.

'Fundamental reform'

He said: "I have been long of the opinion that the system is in need of fundamental reform.

"It was forged in Victorian times and with Victorian values.

"We can't deal with culpability. We can bring in a verdict of unlawful killing as long as we don't name anyone."

He added: "Quite often families leave the coroner's court bewildered by the fact we haven't been able to answer the questions foremost in their mind.

"There is nothing more distressing than coming to court and being totally bewildered by proceedings."

Mr Forrest said babies' organs should be kept by the hospital for teaching and research purposes only in "rare circumstances".

Once the post-mortem had established cause of death, they should, in most instances, be returned to the family.

He was asked by the inquiry's counsel Brian Langstaff whether he had any idea that staff at Bristol Royal Infirmary and Bristol Hospital for Sick Children had kept tissue.

He replied: "The first I heard was after a complaint was lodged and that was certainly after 1995."

The inquiry was set up to look at death rates in heart surgery at Bristol between 1984 and 1995.

It follows an investigation by the General Medical Council which led to the striking off of two doctors - one surgeon and a hospital manager and the suspension of another.

See also:

15 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
21 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
21 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more The Bristol heart babies stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more The Bristol heart babies stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes