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Statement in response to queries about histopathology services

18 January 2013

Statement in response to queries about histopathology services

All quotes attributable to Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust:

"In December 2010, this Trust published the report of an extensive independent inquiry into allegations about histopathology services.

"The Inquiry found no evidence to suggest that the histopathology department at UH Bristol provides anything other than a safe service. However, the panel was concerned about the culture, attitude and working practices in the department and criticised the way that the Trust had managed clinical concerns when they were raised.  

"At the time, this Trust apologised unreservedly to the small number of patients who had suffered harm as a result of diagnostic errors and produced a wide-ranging action plan to address the panel's recommendations. Since December 2010 the Trust has reported its progress publicly at the Trust Board and the Membership Council and to city councillors on the Bristol Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Commission.

"In May 2011 and again in 2012, the Care Quality Commission, which is responsible for ensuring hospitals meet national safety standards, inspected our histopathology service and found it was meeting essential standards of quality and safety. Monitor undertook a separate review in 2011 and expressed itself satisfied with the Trust's system of governance.

"This Trust has dealt robustly with the inquiry panel's concerns and has worked tirelessly to implement its recommendations, completing all but one of these which concerned the development of a single histopathology service for Bristol. This work continues.

"It has been alleged that the procurement of the independent inquiry breached the Standing Financial Instructions of the Trust. The Trust has advised the National Audit Office, which scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament, that it does not believe this to be the case and is co-operating with the NAO to confirm this. The NAO does not have the remit to examine the clinical safety of health services which rests with the Care Quality Commission.

"Patients and the public should be reassured by the findings of the independent inquiry, two inspections by the Care Quality Commission, the conclusions reached by Monitor, and the work that has been done to implement the recommendations of the independent inquiry that histopathology services in Bristol are safe."

Further information about the histopathology review