Public hails doctor's decision to speak up

MEMBERS OF the public applauded the "whistleblower" doctor Stephen Bolsin yesterday after he told a public inquiry that he and his family had suffered because of his efforts to expose the high death rate of babies after heart operations in Bristol.

In a statement after the inquiry Dr Bolsin said he had no doubt that his decision to speak out was the "right one". He hoped others would follow his lead. The applause broke out as the consultant anaesthetist ended a brief statement after four days of giving evidence to the investigation in Bristol.

The inquiry is examining the care and treatment of children undergoing complex heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary and is reviewing nearly 2,000 cases from the 12 years up to 1995.

Dr Bolsin, now director of anaesthesia at Geelong hospital in Victoria, Australia, said: "I hope that the inquiry will reveal that I did not shrink from my primary responsibility to act in the interests of patient safety. Events of the last decade have brought severe personal and professional penalties to my family and to me.

"It would have been easier to say nothing and do nothing. For various reasons my actions have been criticised. At least I had the moral courage to act."