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Editor’s blog Sunday 29 August 2010: The Bristol pathology inquiry suggests that lessons on openness are urgently needed

This report in today's Sunday Telegraph by Laura Donnelly and Patrick Sawer reveals that University Hospitals Bristol NHS FT has made secret payments to people adversely affected by the pathology problems of that region.

It also states that the inquiry (which has had three fresh referrals since it began) has not contacted the 26 patients whose cases launched the investigation (or their bereaved families.

The feature reports a spokesman for the inquiry as saying that patients had not been told their cases were under investigation to "protect patient confidentiality". The same reason was given as to why none of the 26 people in whose cases alleged misdiagnosis prompted the inquiry were contacted about giving evidence to the inquiry.

Both of these examples are flagrantly ridiculous definitions of patient confidentiality. In the real world, the total number of people who would have any privacy-based objection to knowing about or assisting an investigation into whether they had suboptimal NHS treatment is going to be as close to zero as makes no difference.

It is going to be necessary to keep an extremely close and wary eye on this inquiry.