Sunday, October 2, 2011


I hate the term "whistleblower". It has all sorts of negative connotations, for doing something that is intended to stop bad behaviour, bad practice, and harm. At a meeting in London two years ago, i heard 3 "whistleblowers", all non-medical talk about their experience. they found it very harrowing, and i seem to recall all three saying they would never do it again. See here for a link to one of the speakers. Just a few days ago, I came across this piece, the story of the anesthetist who raised concerns about poor outcomes in children and babies undergoing heart surgery in Bristol.

Leaving the UK with my wife and family was an incredibly sad and disappointing time but I am sure now that there could never have been ‘Clinical Governance’ or a change in medical attitudes while I remained in the UK. Only when I had a contract in a new hospital, in a new country did I feel secure enough to report the mortality rate in the Bristol paediatric cardiac surgery unit to the GMC. Sadly despite the Presidents and Council Members of 2 Royal Colleges, the Dean of the Medical School, numerous Professors, some members of the Trust Board, members of the Department of Health and many local clinicians all knowing about Bristol, no other doctors in the UK reported these events to the GMC. I believe that this is a serious and permanent indictment of the attitudes of the profession that prevailed at that time and persist in some quarters in the UK. At least 12 sets of parents had reported deaths to the GMC, but their complaints would not have been investigated without a complaint from a doctor.

A damning indictment.

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