Bristol inquiry faults culture of arrogance

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A systematic failure in the National Health Service to meet patients' needs and a culture of arrogance among doctors will be criticised today in the report on the Bristol heart babies scandal.

The report, triggered by the deaths of babies undergoing complex heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary between 1984 and 1995, follows the biggest public inquiry ever held into the NHS. It is expected to lead to far-reaching changes in standards of care.

The inquiry, chaired by Professor Ian Kennedy, is likely to recommend greater openness among doctors in their dealings with parents, more emphasis on informed consent, new safeguards against doctors who fail to live up to accepted standards and an end to the culture of arrogance among doctors.

It is also expected to recommend raising standards in children's heart surgery by concentrating care in a smaller number of centres of excellence.

The inquiry was set up after three doctors at Bristol Royal Infirmary were found guilty in 1998 of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council over the deaths of 29 babies between 1988 and 1995.

Two doctors, James Wisheart and John Roylance, were struck off. A third, Janardan Dhasmana, was banned from operating on children for three years – a ban that has since been extended.

The report will be divided into two parts, one on events at Bristol and a second on implications for the entire NHS.