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September 6, 2010

Monitor, NHS Bristol and the Bristol Histopathology Inquiry
Filed under: Bristol Pathology Inquiry — Dr. Phil @ 12:08 am

As part of a response to a recent Freedom of Information Request from a public member of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), Monitor, the NHS Foundation Trust Regulator withheld a document called Document 2, entitled “UHB Pathology Issues” – a chronology provided to them by NHS Bristol.

The reason given by Soo Sing Patel, Monitor’s Legal Adviser in this FOIA response:

Monitor FOIA response


“The documents comprise of information provided to Monitor by a third person, NHS Bristol. I am of the view that if NHS Bristol were to take Monitor to court for breach of a duty of confidence, on the basis of probabilities, NHS Bristol would win”.

Document 2, “Chronology provided by NHS Bristol titled UHB Pathology Issues” must be this timeline produced by Deborah Lee, NHS Bristol’s Co-Director of Commissioning (now on secondment to University Hospitals Bristol), which comes to an abrupt end 3rd March 2009, when, after apparently being given the runaround by Jonathan Sheffield, UHB’s Medical Director, and Martin Morse, North Bristol NHS Trust’s (NBT) former Medical Director, she “admits defeat and escalates to Chief Executives”.

Deborah Lee’s timeline

Deborah Lee had known of concerns about UHB’s histopathology services since at least 15th October 2007, when she was acting Chief Executive of NHS Bristol, leading an NHS presentation on reconfiguration of Breast Surgery to a Local Authority Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, and heard a clinician tell the councillors and members of the public that “some aspects of pathology services at UBHT are not up to standard” (UHB was known as UBHT before achieving Foundation Trust status on 1st June 2008).

According to a 2010 Freedom of Information Response from NHS Bristol, the PCT invited NBT to substantiate in writing and with detail the verbal allegations made at the Joint Health Scrutiny Meeting. NHS Bristol claims that NBT did not provide any evidence in support of the allegations, yet Martin Morse had received details of 15 specific cases four months earlier, in June 2007.

Despite having no evidence that patients were not being put at risk, according to Deborah Lee’s timeline, it appears that NHS Bristol did not take the misdiagnosis allegations seriously until Ms Lee was informed about them again on 22nd September 2008, eleven months after she first heard about them in public.

The Monitor FOIA response also says:

Having consulted NHS Bristol about the release of this information they expressed the release of Document 2 would cause them harm or damage”

Ms Lee’s timeline was obligingly provided under the Freedom of Information Act to the public member of UHB by Strategic Health Authority, NHS South West.

Will Deborah Evans, Chief Executive of NHS Bristol take Sir Ian Carruthers’ SHA to court for breach of a duty of confidence?