1 min read

Editor's blog Friday December 3: There's something about Bristol - the sloooooow pathology inquiry

My good friend the late Professor Bob Sang accurately described himself as a "constructive subversive". Two other examples of this happy breed are GP, journalist and Countdown cynosure Dr Phil Hammond and the redoubtable patient advocate Daphne Havercroft.

Bristol health services and Phil Hammond have form: you will remember his role in using his seminal 'MD' column in Private Eye to express the concerns of Steve Bolsin and colleagues about the standards of paediatric heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
It would be lovely to think the BRI inquiry (whose secretary, Una O'Brien, is now DH permanent secretary) was the start of NHS glasnost about patient safety and quality.

It would also be deluded. The 'confuse and conceal' methodology remains far too prevalent when problems arise.

Eighteen months ago, Daphne Havercroft and Phil Hammond began publicly to raise a variety of concerns about the quality and consistency of pathology services in Bristol. We have previously shared something Daphne wrote for Phil's own website.

The inquiry, by Verita, has taken a long time in its deliberations, and may or may not be going to publish its findings next week.

In anticipation of the possibility that it won't be only snow whitening things out, Daphne has updated and expanded her report, highlighting the key questions that the official inquiry must answer if it is to enjoy public confidence in its credibility.

Perhaps the official inquiry will answer the wide range of concerns. If so, splendid.

If it does not, then Bristol's GP practice-based commissioners, MPs, the CQC, the DH and various other bodies should all take a long, hard look at the gaps.