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30 June 2016

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust welcomes publication of two independent reports into heart services at its Children’s Hospital

The reports were from Eleanor Grey QC and the Care Quality Commission in response to well-publicised concerns raised by the families of some children treated at the hospital between 2010 and 2014.

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of the Trust, said:

"We fully accept the findings of these reports and welcome their publication as a way to learn from mistakes.

"We are deeply sorry for the things we got wrong - for when our care fell below acceptable standards, for not supporting some families as well as we could have and for not always learning adequately from our mistakes. This undoubtedly added to the distress of families at an already very upsetting time for them. We didn't get it right for these families, and I'd like to apologise to the families unreservedly, on behalf of everyone at the Trust.

"We're pleased that the review found evidence of really good care and acknowledges the substantial improvements we have made, but we want to get our care right for everyone, every time, especially so when it involves children.

"If any family has further questions or concerns about their child's care we urge them to contact us.  We are committed to doing all we can to answer questions and concerns and to support these families as best we can.

"While we fully accept the findings of the reports, it is important to reassure children and parents who are using or are about to use our services that our care has been independently assessed as safe and effective. The Care Quality Commission assessed our children's heart services as Good in its September 2014 inspection.  And this year's National Congenital Heart Disease Audit Report, which rates heart services across the country, found our outcomes to be comparable with other hospitals.

"Parents have played an important role in bringing about significant changes in our practice and improving our care.  This approach has already brought improvements and addressed some of the recommendations of the review.  We are committed to building on the work we have done so far by studying the recommendations in these reports and rapidly making improvements where we need to do so, and by strengthening our partnership between families and staff.  We know this is the basis of delivering safe and effective high quality care."

Dr Bryony Strachan, Clinical Chair of the Women's and Children's Division of the Trust, said:

"We know that children's heart surgery is highly complex and carries significant risk. Our skilled and dedicated doctors, nurses and wider clinical team work tirelessly to ensure we give children and their families the best care we can.

"We are pleased the Care Quality Commission's expert panel and the independent review noted examples of good practice. We have spent an extra £2.5 million since 2011 to improve our care and treatment. We provide more intensive care for children who are very sick through our new high dependency unit. We have invested £1 million to provide more staff to care for children with heart conditions, and our children's heart ward now has one nurse to every three patients, and one for every two children on our high dependency unit.

"We have also improved how we involve and support parents. We have an extra psychologist to help parents and children as they prepare for surgery. We hold dedicated meetings where we ask parents how we can do better. And we now have an expanded bereavement and family support team in place, specifically to help families at the time when they need support most."


Notes to editors:

The reports published today are:

  • An Independent Review of children's heart services in Bristol, led by Eleanor Grey QC, which was commissioned following complaints about our services by a number of families whose children we cared for between 2010 and 2014.  
  • An independent audit and review by the Care Quality Commission of the medical records of a sample of children who were in our care between January 2012 and December 2014 for surgical treatment for heart conditions they were born with.

Media contact: University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust press office (0117) 3423629