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9th September 1999

Oral Hearings continued in Bristol today with evidence from Mrs Jean Pratten, former Hon. Secretary of the Bristol and South West Children’s Heart Circle. She explained the function of the Heart Circle, specifically focussing on is involvement with the funding of two posts to assist families within the Bristol Hospitals; the Family Support Worker at the Bristol Children’s Hospital (BCH)) and the Cardiac Liaison Nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI)). She outlined her observations of the working relationship between the two individuals appointed and described the support and advice she offered them. She then commented briefly on her relationship with the clinical and management staff at both hospitals and discussed the transfer of the paediatric cardiac surgery service to BCH. She concluded by describing the work of Dr Freda Gardner (Clinical Psychologist), from whom the Heart Circle commissioned research into the role of the cardiac liaison nurse.

Mrs Helen Vegoda, Family Support Worker, and Counsellor, BCH, gave evidence to the Inquiry this afternoon. She outlined her qualifications and experience prior to her appointment to the BCH in 1988 and described her role as giving support and information to parents of a non-medical nature. Mrs Vegoda commented on clinical and management supervision and support she had received and on her professional relationship with Helen Stratton, Cardiac Liaison Nurse. She then commented on the equity of access to counselling support services for families at the BRI and BCH and described her observations of the way parents were informed of the diagnosis and risks of surgery associated with their children’s conditions. She concluded by commenting on the issues of tissue retention and the split site.


All week the oral hearings have been attended by Valerie Mandelson, the Inquiry’s expert on counselling services for bereaved parents. She concluded the week’s evidence with her observations about the structures and systems which existed in Bristol, the nature of the services provided and how the service compared with the rest of the country.




   1                    Day 47, 9th September 1999
   2   (9.30 am)
   3   THE CHAIRMAN: Good morning, everyone. Good morning,
   4     Mr Maclean.
   5   MR MACLEAN: Good morning, sir. This morning's first
   6     witness is Jean Pratten, a founding member and former
   7     Chairman of the Heart Circle, about which the Panel have
   8     heard something already this week. Could I invite
   9     Mrs Pratten to come to the witness table?
  10        Mrs Pratten, could I ask you to stand, please, to
  11     take the oath?
  12            MRS JEAN PRATTEN (SWORN):
  13            Examined by MR MACLEAN:
  14   Q. Your full name is Jean Ruth Pratten?
  15   A. That is right.
  16   Q. As I have already said, you were a founding member and
  17     former Chairman of the Heart Circle?
  18   A. That is right.
  19   Q. Could I ask you to look at the screen in front of you
  20     and could I have WIT 269/1?
  21        Can we see the whole page, please? Is that the
  22     first page of the formal written statement that you have
  23     made to the Inquiry?
  24   A. Yes, it is.
  25   Q. If you go to page 12, that is your signature, is it not?
   1   A. That is right.
   2   Q. Have you read that statement over recently?
   3   A. Yes.
   4   Q. Are you content that the contents of it are true?
   5   A. Yes.
   6   Q. As well as the providing your own statement, you have
   7     also provided I think one written comment on someone
   8     else's statement. That is a comment on the statement of
   9     Helen Stratton. If we have WIT 256/106, that is your
  10     comment there, is it?
  11   A. Yes. It is a bit small, but ...
  12   Q. Yes. In particular, you deal with the point that Helen
  13     Stratton made at paragraph 32 of her statement, which
  14     again we will come back to in due course.
  15   A. Thank you.
  16   Q. You have also supplied some other supporting
  17     documentation to the Inquiry, Heart Circle publications
  18     and so on, and also, I think, a report by Dr Gardner,
  19     who is a clinical psychologist, which is at WIT 269/13.
  20        That is a report, I think, the Heart Circle
  21     commissioned after Helen Stratton left her post as
  22     cardiac liaison nurse in February 1994; is that right?
  23   A. Yes, correct.
  24   Q. Again, I want you in a moment to explain a little more
  25     subsequently as we go along, the provenance and
   1     importance as you see it of that document.
   2        It is also right, is it not, that you gave
   3     evidence at the General Medical Council hearings?
   4   A. Yes, I did.
   5   Q. Essentially on behalf of Mr Wisheart?
   6   A. I did.
   7   Q. Could you just explain to me how it came about first of
   8     all that the post which Helen Vegoda subsequently filled
   9     was created when it was created at the Children's
  10     Hospital, and secondly, why it was that she, in
  11     particular, was the person who filled that post?
  12   A. I can remember being in Bristol Children's Hospital.
  13     I used to visit the hospital regularly, and Dr Joffe
  14     approached me one day and said that he would like to set
  15     up the post of a family support worker. He asked about
  16     funding for such a post, and I had, for years, been
  17     trying to give as much support as I could to families in
  18     a voluntary capacity. I would pop into the hospital
  19     when I was invited by the ward or whenever, or by
  20     families, and I could see maybe that there was such
  21     a need for somebody to be there all the time. So I put
  22     it to our committee, who agreed to fund that post,
  23     initially for a year.
  24   Q. And what sort of financial commitment was that?
  25   A. It came to about #30,000 in the end. We paid #15,000
   1     I think in the first year, and then #5,000 for three
   2     years after that. I think that is right. We also set
   3     up the office, paid for all the office to be furnished
   4     and everything. There were incidental expenses as well.
   5   Q. Let us take the first year for the moment. What type of
   6     commitment was that for the Heart Circle in relation to
   7     its total resources?
   8   A. We always had the resources before we agreed to fund
   9     anything, so we would obviously have had the #15,000
  10     available for such a post, but it would have been a fair
  11     commitment.
  12   Q. Was it the most significant financial commitment the
  13     Heart Circle would have had at that time?
  14   A. At that time, yes.
  15   Q. Are you able to recall now what the annual income of the
  16     Heart Circle was about that time? Obviously it would
  17     vary, but --
  18   A. #50,000 or #60,000 a year, something like that. I have
  19     not looked that fact up. But I would say about that.
  20   Q. The second part of the question was why Helen Vegoda, in
  21     particular, was chosen to fill that post. Can you help
  22     us with that?
  23   A. I was invited to attend the interviewing panel and I was
  24     asked to bring another Heart Circle representative with
  25     me, and I brought the Chairman of the South Devon group
   1     with me. I felt it was a very organised panel for such
   2     a post. We were not felt to have been part of it, even
   3     though we had been invited to it, and we were invited to
   4     sit on the side, and I think there were two or three
   5     people interviewed. At the conclusion, Mary Andrews and
   6     I, and one or two others, felt that Helen Vegoda did not
   7     have the necessary qualifications for the job, but at
   8     the end of the day, we did not take part in the voting
   9     for the job because we felt it very difficult, as
  10     a voluntary organisation that had never become part of
  11     the politics of the hospital, to give our vote. That
  12     was a considered situation. Though we were going to
  13     fund the post, we were not going to employ the post.
  14   Q. I will come to that point in a moment. What type of
  15     qualifications did you think this post required?
  16   A. Certainly hospital experience. I would have thought
  17     nursing experience, or certainly awareness of a cardiac
  18     situation, of cardiac children and their needs, and the
  19     stresses that the parents go through.
  20   Q. So in fact you felt that Helen Vegoda was not
  21     appropriately qualified or experienced for the job which
  22     she eventually obtained?
  23   A. Yes. I am not decrying how she did the job. At that
  24     stage, I would definitely have felt that.
  25   Q. Was there any contribution to her salary from anywhere
   1     other than the Heart Circle?
   2   A. I have no idea. I do not think so. We only paid our
   3     contribution, which is what we offered to give. I never
   4     saw any other sign of financial dealings for her.
   5   Q. So there were two representatives of the Heart Circle
   6     broadly defined at the interview?
   7   A. Yes.
   8   Q. You and --
   9   A. Mary Andrew.
  10   Q. And neither of you felt that Helen Vegoda was
  11     appropriately qualified for the job?
  12   A. That is right.
  13   Q. So who was it, then, that, as it were, pushed through
  14     her appointment?
  15   A. There was a very well qualified board there and there
  16     was -- I mean, I am going back in my memory now. It was
  17     not a unanimous vote. We did not take part; it was
  18     Dr Joffe, Professor Baum, Mr Wisheart, some
  19     psychiatrist, I am not sure of his name, somebody from
  20     the medical social work department. Those were the
  21     people that come to mind, and we sat on the side, we did
  22     not take part in the vote because it put us in
  23     a difficult position. We had been asked to fund the
  24     post.
  25   Q. Once she was appointed, what was Helen Vegoda's job as
   1     you understood it?
   2   A. At that stage I understood it to be a family support
   3     worker. That is how we entitled that job.
   4   Q. What would that mean?
   5   A. To be available for people to come and talk to, to share
   6     their problems. I think when you have a child diagnosed
   7     with a cardiac problem, there are three stages you have
   8     to go through. The first terrible stage is diagnosis.
   9     That is where families often were in Bristol Children's
  10     Hospital, bewildered, with a new baby, newly diagnosed,
  11     and at that time they have something to have to come to
  12     terms with, and a support person in the hospital to whom
  13     you can go and talk is very valuable.
  14   Q. At the diagnosis stage, so Helen Vegoda's role would
  15     embrace talking to the parents at that stage?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. What about the other important stage?
  18   A. The next stage is catheterisation, which I believe is
  19     the worst stage. That is when a reasonably accurate
  20     diagnosis is made and at that time as a parent you are
  21     seeing everything that is wrong. You have no programme
  22     as to where you are going next. You are being told all
  23     the problems that your child, your baby, whatever, is
  24     having to face. And of course the third stage is
  25     open-heart surgery, if it is offered, or closed-heart
   1     surgery, or no surgery at all.
   2   Q. The diagnosis stage: the diagnosis would presumably
   3     often be given to parents by the cardiologists?
   4   A. That is right.
   5   Q. Outside of Bristol, at clinics which they would conduct
   6     throughout the South West?
   7   A. Often not. The children were often sent up to Bristol
   8     for accurate diagnosis.
   9   Q. If there were to be diagnosis to be given at such
  10     a clinic, say in Gloucester or in Bath or South Wales,
  11     was the expectation that the Helen Vegoda person, the
  12     person filling that role, would be present at those
  13     clinics?
  14   A. No. I do not think so.
  15   Q. So she would only be present at diagnoses which were
  16     communicated to parents in Bristol?
  17   A. Yes. I think what happened quite often was, an early
  18     diagnosis might have been made at the district hospital
  19     and the child was sent up for confirmation of that
  20     diagnosis. I came across those children often because
  21     we would often give those families a grant, and some of
  22     those families had been in at least four hospitals
  23     before they reached Bristol, within a fortnight of the
  24     baby's birth; sometimes five, if the baby had been born
  25     at home or in a district hospital.
   1   Q. Who was Helen Vegoda's boss when she took up this role?
   2   A. I never knew. Dr Joffe gave her support.
   3   Q. He was a cardiologist?
   4   A. That is right. I tried to help her because I realised
   5     she did not have an understanding of the needs of
   6     children or their relatives. I gave a lot of time to
   7     trying to help her to understand the needs of those
   8     families and the children.
   9   Q. You were not her boss?
  10   A. No, I funded.
  11   Q. At this stage in the late 1980s, when Helen Vegoda took
  12     up her post in 1988, to what extent did her work embrace
  13     the Bristol Royal Infirmary as well as the Children's
  14     Hospital?
  15   A. She used to take the families down to the unit before
  16     surgery, I remember.
  17   Q. Was it part of her role, as far as you remember, to be
  18     at the Bristol Royal Infirmary during the day of
  19     surgery?
  20   A. I cannot remember.
  21   Q. But being there, being at the BRI on the day of surgery,
  22     later became an important part of Helen Stratton's role?
  23   A. That is right.
  24   Q. Helen Vegoda therefore took up her position in 1988,
  25     before the UBHT had been established, the old pre-Trust
   1     system. Are you able to help us with an assessment of
   2     the way in which the management reacted to her role,
   3     whether they supported her appropriately or
   4     inappropriately?
   5   A. Helen Vegoda's role?
   6   Q. Yes.
   7   A. I think it was looked at, as I said in my statement, as
   8     a supernumerary role, and I do not think that the role
   9     that she had, or the job description that she had,
  10     really fitted into any established management line, if
  11     you see what I am trying to say. She did not fit into
  12     a social work department because she did not have the
  13     qualifications, but nobody from the social work
  14     department, I think, was her line manager. She did not
  15     fit into obviously the nursing side of things.
  16   Q. And nor did she fall within the established chaplaincy
  17     type organisation either?
  18   A. No.
  19   Q. How did it come about, then, that a second post was
  20     created in 1990, which was ultimately filled by Helen
  21     Stratton, which was also, as I understand it, funded in
  22     whole or in part by the Heart Circle?
  23   A. The Heart Circle had to work on the -- well, we did, we
  24     had the two sites. We had completely separate
  25     managements, if you like. The Children's Hospital, and
   1     their management team, and Bristol Royal Infirmary and
   2     their management team.
   3        The Heart Circle, over the years, spent very much
   4     more of its time and energy on Ward 5 in the Bristol
   5     Royal Infirmary because there were other means of
   6     support, the friends of the Children's Hospital and
   7     things up the road, as it were, and we felt that
   8     children, being operated on in a cardiac unit, not
   9     a paediatric cardiac unit, was where we should be
  10     focusing our work to try and make everything on that
  11     unit as good as possible for the children, and as easy
  12     as possible for the parents.
  13        So over most of the years of the work of the Heart
  14     Circle, we were very involved at Bristol Royal
  15     Infirmary.
  16        It was obvious to us in the Heart Circle that --
  17     well, it is obvious to anybody -- that having to face
  18     open-heart surgery in Bristol Royal Infirmary in
  19     a separate and different hospital is not easy; you have
  20     placed your trust in the Bristol Children's Hospital and
  21     you are going to have to take your child to Bristol
  22     Royal Infirmary. Bristol Royal Infirmary always was
  23     a very, very busy unit, and I felt, together with my
  24     colleagues in the Heart Circle, that there was
  25     a definite need for a qualified nurse, counsellor, but
   1     she was not a counsellor, a qualified nurse, able to
   2     help the families, ask the right questions prior to
   3     surgery, if you like, answer any questions that have
   4     a link with GPs and the community from whence they came,
   5     who was knowledgeable and was there and available and
   6     not on shift-work, to whom the parents could turn.
   7   Q. So the impetus for the creation of this role came from
   8     the Heart Circle itself?
   9   A. From observations with the management, with Sister Julia
  10     Thomas in particular on Ward 5.
  11   Q. So the Heart Circle thought that the creation of this
  12     new post was a good idea?
  13   A. Yes.
  14   Q. And Julia Thomas thought it was a good idea?
  15   A. Yes.
  16   Q. And both the Heart Circle and Julia Thomas pushed for
  17     the creation of this post?
  18   A. The post seemed to happen. We agreed to fund it, again,
  19     because we did feel that parents needed somebody to whom
  20     they could turn to get proper information; when they
  21     went back to the community, they had somebody who would
  22     speak to their GP before them to make links with the
  23     community, to make links with health visitors, to have
  24     a professional input into the South West.
  25   Q. Did the Heart Circle enter into negotiations, as it
   1     were, with the Health Authority as it then was?
   2   A. No.
   3   Q. Suggesting that they might pay some of the costs of this
   4     post?
   5   A. Through the management of the cardiac unit, it was
   6     always assumed that that post would, after three years,
   7     be taken on by the Trust, but in fact it did not.
   8   Q. When Helen Stratton actually took up her post, the Trust
   9     was not yet in being, although it was known that it was
  10     going to be in being?
  11   A. Right.
  12   Q. When you say it was always understood, by whom was it
  13     understood?
  14   A. By myself. We agreed to fund the post for three years
  15     with Julia Thomas and the management of the unit.
  16   Q. Who was "the management" of the unit, as you understood
  17     it?
  18   A. I cannot recall.
  19   Q. Do you mean doctors?
  20   A. No.
  21   Q. Nurses or managers?
  22   A. Julia Thomas was the person I spoke to mostly. She was
  23     the hospital person, I was the funder.
  24   Q. So you do not recall discussions with the Finance
  25     Department of the putative trust, for example?
   1   A. No.
   2   Q. The creation of this post, the need for this post as you
   3     saw it, was that something that arose only in 1990, or
   4     was it a need that had been there for some time?
   5   A. A need had been there for some time.
   6   Q. Had there been previous attempts to create such a post?
   7     For example, why was not this post created at the same
   8     time as Helen Vegoda's?
   9   A. That post was created around us, if you see what
  10     I mean. It was Dr Joffe's instigation. I do not know.
  11     We always talked about having a specialist nurse on the
  12     cardiac unit. Things evolved. I am going back a long
  13     time and I cannot really remember.
  14   Q. You said that "that post was created around us at
  15     Dr Joffe's instigation". You mean Helen Vegoda's post?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. Given that Helen Stratton came to that post, can I ask
  18     you the same questions as I asked you about Helen
  19     Vegoda? First of all, what was this role to be, and
  20     secondly, why did Helen Stratton fill it?
  21   A. It was supposed to be a cardiac liaison post, a Sister
  22     post, to liaise between the community and the unit, and
  23     to enable parents to liaise with her, so that they had
  24     somebody to whom they could turn.
  25   Q. Before or after the operations?
   1   A. I think it was hoped originally that she could have gone
   2     to the outpatients appointment prior to surgery, but
   3     that did not work out because it was in the Children's
   4     Hospital, and I do not think she was made very welcome.
   5   Q. Was it envisaged, therefore, by those such as you who
   6     had the concept in their head of this post, that the
   7     person who had that post would work at the Children's
   8     Hospital as well as at the BRI?
   9   A. Particularly at the -- at the outpatients prior to
  10     surgery.
  11   Q. And that would typically be attended by obviously the
  12     patient, the parent and the cardiologist or the surgeon?
  13   A. The cardiac surgeons.
  14   Q. So that would be the opportunity, usually the first
  15     opportunity, to meet the surgeon who would conduct the
  16     operation; is that right?
  17   A. Yes.
  18   Q. At that stage, do I take it that the reason for having
  19     a nurse would be that the nurse would essentially help
  20     the parent to understand and ask intelligent questions?
  21   A. That is right, or interpret what they have been told
  22     afterwards.
  23   Q. So that was the importance of being at that appointment?
  24   A. Yes.
  25   Q. In fact, as matters developed, to what extent did Helen
   1     Stratton attend such appointments?
   2   A. Very few, I believe. I cannot recall.
   3   Q. Why should that set of circumstances have come about?
   4   A. There was obviously a difficulty between the two posts,
   5     as well as between the two hospitals. I think between
   6     the two qualifications, if you like.
   7   Q. You mean there was a difficulty between the two women?
   8   A. Yes, and between their different qualifications.
   9   Q. So it is important, perhaps, to distinguish between
  10     clashes of personality on the one hand and more
  11     deep-seated structural problems on the other?
  12   A. I never got particularly involved. I know Helen
  13     Stratton set up a meeting to try and iron these problems
  14     out. I was not involved with that.
  15   Q. You were not at that meeting?
  16   A. No.
  17   Q. But the meeting as you understood it was at Helen
  18     Stratton's instigation?
  19   A. Or it might have been -- I do not know. I was not up
  20     there and I did not set it up and I had nothing to do
  21     with it. I just know that they tried to iron things
  22     out. I never got involved in the policy and politics of
  23     that.
  24   Q. So if I were to say that Helen Stratton's role was one
  25     of communication between the GP, the health visitor and
   1     the parents, and acting as a source of information for
   2     the parents, some of whom had travelled a long distance,
   3     as they made the transition from the Children's Hospital
   4     to the BRI, that the role was an information-giving,
   5     communicating, co-ordinating role --
   6   A. And availability. A support role as well. She had
   7     a room, a nice room which we set up on the unit where
   8     she could talk to people in a relaxed way.
   9   Q. In the BRI?
  10   A. Yes.
  11   Q. Mrs Pratten, what do you understand a counsellor to be
  12     in a hospital setting? What does counselling mean to
  13     you?
  14   A. It has become a different word to what it used to be.
  15     It has become somebody who has been on a course and
  16     learned to be able to listen and be a listening ear, and
  17     presumably give good psychological advice. I have never
  18     been to one, and I do not consider myself one, so I do
  19     not really take it further than that. A counsellor is
  20     somebody you can go to to talk things through with in
  21     the widest possible terms.
  22   Q. If I had asked you that question in 1990, "What is
  23     a counsellor in a hospital setting?", what would you
  24     have said?
  25   A. Somebody to whom you can turn to talk things through
   1     with, I suppose in a hospital setting. I do not ...
   2   Q. Was Helen Stratton a counsellor?
   3   A. She was somebody who would be willing to listen and who
   4     people could talk to, the same as Helen Vegoda was
   5     somebody who would listen and people would be willing to
   6     talk to. You are pushing me quite hard on a point
   7     I have never -- we called Helen Stratton the cardiac
   8     liaison sister in her post and when Helen Vegoda was
   9     appointed she was a family support worker.
  10   Q. If somebody said, "Is Helen Stratton there to counsel
  11     parents?" you would have said "Yes"?
  12   A. To listen to them, yes, and help them, and help them get
  13     the information and facts correct. Sometimes parents
  14     were quite bewildered as to what they were being told
  15     and they wanted to talk things through.
  16   Q. Can I have on the screen UBHT 167/74? This is the
  17     Annual Report for Bristol Cardiac Surgery, and it
  18     embraces both hospitals. We see that from the title.
  19     It is the annual report for 1989.
  20   A. Right.
  21   Q. I want you to go to page 76, please. Do you see in the
  22     first paragraph:
  23        "The nursing team on Ward 5 now includes about
  24     75 nurses led by the senior sister, Miss Julia Thomas,
  25     and 6 other sisters and supported by Mrs Helen Vegoda,
   1     counsellor to the families of children, and Miss Helen
   2     Stratton, who has a similar but wider counselling role
   3     supporting any families in need and also the staff.
   4     Both of these later appointments were made possible by
   5     the farsighted leadership and generosity of the Bristol
   6     and South West Children's Heart Circle under the
   7     leadership of Mrs J Pratten."
   8        To what extent would you have agreed with the
   9     statement that Helen Vegoda was a counsellor to the
  10     families, but Helen Stratton was somebody with a similar
  11     but wider counselling role?
  12   A. The "wider role" was her qualifications.
  13   Q. The roles were actually very different?
  14   A. Yes, completely different.
  15   Q. One was a nurse, one was not?
  16   A. I cannot tell you. I believe Helen Vegoda had been on
  17     a counselling course, or part-time counselling course or
  18     something, I believe. I know that Helen Stratton had
  19     been the South West co-ordinator for transplants.
  20   Q. Yes?
  21   A. So I think you are tying me up on the word "counselling"
  22     a bit, because I looked at them as people doing a job,
  23     and I did not get involved in their job description.
  24     I was funding the job on behalf of the Heart Circle,
  25     because it was the Heart Circle's choice that there
   1     should be extra people supporting families who had come
   2     a long way to this hospital and needed some sort of
   3     support, both when their children went to surgery, when
   4     their child was diagnosed and sadly when a child died.
   5     Whether it was called a "counsellor" or not never
   6     really came into my thinking. They were people working
   7     in the hospital funded by the Heart Circle, whom I could
   8     also talk to.
   9   Q. Would it be accurate to describe Helen Stratton's role
  10     as that of a support nurse?
  11   A. A cardiac liaison sister, a support sister.
  12   Q. The two would be synonymous as far as you were
  13     concerned?
  14   A. Yes.
  15   Q. Were you aware of what somebody called Mary Goodwin was
  16     doing at Great Ormond Street?
  17   A. I had met her, yes, earlier.
  18   Q. To what extent did you understand Helen Stratton to be
  19     trying to perform the same role in Bristol as Mary
  20     Goodwin had at Great Ormond Street?
  21   A. I do not think I got involved. I know that Helen
  22     Stratton admired the work of Miss Goodwin, is it, in
  23     Great Ormond Street, and I know she used to like to go
  24     up there and discuss, because, again, Helen Stratton was
  25     quite isolated. She did not have a very good support
   1     structure or line management or anything. It was good
   2     for her to discuss her job as she saw it, it was a new
   3     job anyway, with other hospitals with more experience.
   4   Q. I was going to ask you, I asked you about Helen Vegoda:
   5     who was Helen Stratton's boss?
   6   A. I think probably in the initial stages, I suppose Julia
   7     Thomas took on a responsibility because she was with me
   8     in setting up the role, but when she retired, I think,
   9     again, those two posts were seen as supernumerary and
  10     did not fit into an actual line management situation.
  11   Q. How would you react to the suggestion that you were
  12     Helen Stratton's boss?
  13   A. No. I was somebody she could talk to. I funded her
  14     post. I would like to talk things through with Helen
  15     Stratton because there were very many ways on the
  16     cardiac surgery unit that more facilities could be
  17     provided, more support could be provided, for families,
  18     and therefore the only way you can find out what is
  19     needed on that unit is to talk to somebody in the know,
  20     and we would discuss things as we felt we could provide
  21     to make life better.
  22   Q. But you are pretty clear that you were the boss of
  23     neither Helen Vegoda nor Helen Stratton?
  24   A. At that time I was probably the Secretary of the Heart
  25     Circle -- maybe I was the Chair of the Heart Circle, in
   1     1989, perhaps, and it was the Heart Circle's choice to
   2     fund those posts. But the funding was paid afterwards
   3     to the Trust, so no payslip or anything came from the
   4     Heart Circle to those posts; it was paid -- we were
   5     billed afterwards, sometimes considerably afterwards, to
   6     pay back the Trust what they had paid out in salary.
   7   Q. No doubt as a matter of employment law -- I am not going
   8     to ask you to comment on that -- Helen Stratton was
   9     employed by the hospital and not by the Health Authority
  10     or later by the Trust, but in essence, the Heart Circle
  11     put up the money --
  12   A. That is right.
  13   Q. -- after the fact, to recompense the hospital for those
  14     salary payments?
  15   A. Well, the jobs would not be there without it.
  16   Q. But yesterday Mr Langstaff asked Helen Stratton to say
  17     as far as she was concerned, to whom was she answerable
  18     for the work that she did, who was her boss, and she
  19     said that she perceived that you, as Chairman of the
  20     Heart Circle, was her boss, because the Heart Circle
  21     were paying her salary. But then she said:
  22        "It was quite unclear. Apart from my perception
  23     of it being Jean Pratten, because the Heart Circle were
  24     paying my salary and for day-to-day things going on in
  25     the unit, I would probably refer to Fiona Thomas or
   1     Julia Thomas in the beginning of my job, but I cannot
   2     remember that ever being formalised; that was just
   3     something I did."
   4        How would you react to that response?
   5   A. It probably was not formalised, but Julia Thomas was
   6     the senior sister on the unit under whom she worked.
   7   Q. Would it have been helpful or unhelpful if it had been
   8     more formalised?
   9   A. Yes, it would have been helpful.
  10   Q. If you were responsible for the formalisation process,
  11     what would you have done?
  12   A. How do you mean? How would I have spoken to Julia
  13     Thomas and said "Formalise it up", you mean?
  14   Q. If you had been given a sheet of paper and told to draw
  15     out the structure which would have been appropriate to
  16     formalise Helen Stratton's role, what would you have
  17     done?
  18   A. I suppose I would have gone and talked to somebody and
  19     got on with it, but I never was in that position.
  20   Q. But the appropriate link would have been to the senior
  21     sister in charge of the ward, would it, in your opinion?
  22   A. In my opinion, or later on, the manager of the unit, who
  23     was first Lesley Salmon, I think, and later --
  24   Q. Rachel Ferris?
  25   A. Rachel, yes.
   1   Q. I was going to ask you about the directorate structure
   2     that the Trust introduced. The Panel has heard much
   3     about the various directorates of children's services
   4     and surgery and so on, and subsequently the development
   5     of the directorate at the BRI, of the Directorate of
   6     Cardiac Services.
   7        To what extent did those various management
   8     structures and changes at the BRI impinge upon the role
   9     that Helen Stratton performed?
  10   A. I cannot comment, really. I can remember at the end of
  11     Helen's second year, or first year and second year,
  12     I set up with Rachel Ferris, I think, that she should do
  13     a presentation to show what she has achieved during the
  14     year. I spoke to Rachel Ferris about having some
  15     feedback as to where the post had gone. So to that
  16     extent, Rachel Ferris and Fiona Thomas and myself,
  17     I think, twice had a presentation by Helen Stratton on
  18     her work, so therefore, I would consider, from that,
  19     that she was involved with Rachel and with Fiona.
  20   Q. Can I just take you back in time a little bit to the
  21     meeting which took place between Helen Stratton and
  22     Helen Vegoda, as you put it, I think, to try to iron out
  23     the difficulties that there seemed to be.
  24        You were not at that meeting?
  25   A. No.
   1   Q. Were you invited?
   2   A. No.
   3   Q. Who attended that meeting, as far as you were aware?
   4   A. I think Dr Joffe went with Helen Vegoda, and therefore
   5     I think I can remember Helen inviting Mr Wisheart to go
   6     with her, but that is just from my memory. I had
   7     nothing to do with it.
   8   Q. I think it is right that Dr Joffe and Mr Wisheart both
   9     attended that meeting. What did you understand the
  10     outcome to be and why?
  11   A. I cannot recall.
  12   Q. Were you conscious of the fact that Helen Stratton felt
  13     frustrated that she was not going to be allowed over the
  14     threshold of the Children's Hospital as she had
  15     anticipated?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. And you had anticipated that she would be allowed over
  18     that threshold?
  19   A. Yes, and in fact I think -- I am only going from my
  20     memory, but I feel sometimes the nurses from ITU and the
  21     Children's Hospital used to invite her up to talk to
  22     them so that she was doing some, you know, work between
  23     the two hospitals with them. But that is from memory.
  24   Q. I think Helen Stratton said she was indeed friendly with
  25     a couple of the nurses --
   1   A. Yes, and that had to cease too, I believe.
   2   Q. Why did that have to cease?
   3   A. Because she was not welcome in the Children's Hospital,
   4     I suppose. I never got involved.
   5   Q. Would that be because Helen Vegoda would not let her in,
   6     or because Dr Joffe would not let her in?
   7   A. I cannot tell you because I was not at the meeting.
   8   Q. What was your perception?
   9   A. My perception was that there was an incompatibility
  10     between the two posts, and there were two separate
  11     managements, as I mentioned earlier, of each hospital,
  12     so the whole of the cardiac services for children were
  13     not integrated in one unit; there were two completely
  14     different sections. I would have thought, had there
  15     been one unit that could have looked at both posts
  16     together -- do you see what I am trying to say -- it
  17     might have worked.
  18   Q. Does the fact that Dr Joffe attended the meeting as you
  19     put it with Helen Vegoda, indicate that Dr Joffe was the
  20     driving force, if you like, at the Children's Hospital
  21     of the cardiac services?
  22   A. Yes, I would say so.
  23   Q. He was the leader?
  24   A. Yes, I would say so, at that time.
  25   Q. And it would follow, would it, that Mr Wisheart was
   1     essentially the leader of the BRI-based team?
   2   A. Probably.
   3   Q. So to the extent that there were incompatibilities in
   4     these roles, ultimately the responsibility for sorting
   5     them out would have lain with the respective leaderships
   6     of the two sites; is that right?
   7   A. Yes. It did not lay with me. I am a complete
   8     volunteer, you know, who was trying to assess or
   9     identify where we can go to help situations, not get dug
  10     down in the mire of it.
  11   Q. I am not suggesting you were the one who should have
  12     brought along a very large iron and ironed it out --
  13   A. I was not able to.
  14   Q. Your organisation was funding these posts. Was it not
  15     within the Heart Circle's power to go to somebody and
  16     say "Wait a minute, we are funding these posts and they
  17     are incompatible"?
  18   A. I certainly went to somebody earlier in the Children's
  19     Hospital about Helen Vegoda's post. No, we were not
  20     funding Helen Vegoda's post at that time, I think we
  21     were probably only funding Helen Stratton's, but if we
  22     were funding Helen Vegoda's, it was minimal.
  23   Q. Who did you go to, to make those points?
  24   A. Which points?
  25   Q. When I said go to somebody and say "Wait a minute, we
   1     are funding these incompatible posts", you said
   2     "I certainly went to somebody earlier in the Children's
   3     Hospital about Helen Vegoda's post"?
   4   A. I went to somebody in the first six months, a manager in
   5     the hospital -- I cannot remember her name -- and
   6     expressed my concern.
   7   Q. By "manager" you mean a professional manager as opposed
   8     to a clinician?
   9   A. Yes.
  10   Q. This would be in the late 1980s, in the early days of
  11     Helen Vegoda's post?
  12   A. Yes.
  13   Q. Before Helen Stratton's post had ever been created?
  14   A. That is right. I never felt it was my role to interfere
  15     with their territories, if you like.
  16   Q. You felt, did you, that the Helen Vegoda post was an
  17     error from the very beginning?
  18   A. Helen Vegoda played a very useful part in supporting
  19     families. There were families who certainly were helped
  20     by knowing her, but the qualifications for that post
  21     were not met, that is all I am going to -- what I felt
  22     were right.
  23   Q. So without any criticism of her dedication or commitment
  24     to --
  25   A. I would not criticise her dedication in any way --
   1   Q. -- to her job: as you understood it, it was not the
   2     right job in the first place?
   3   A. That is right.
   4   Q. Was that the nature of a concern you expressed to the
   5     Manager of the hospital?
   6   A. Yes.
   7   Q. What was the reaction to that expression of concern?
   8   A. Negative. They did not really want to hear.
   9   Q. Did they say "Go away, Mrs Pratten, just keep funding
  10     the post"?
  11   A. Sort of. That is right.
  12   Q. You must have thought --
  13   A. In fairness, I suppose the post had been made, it had
  14     only been running a short time by that stage, and she
  15     had not had the opportunity to really understand,
  16     maybe.
  17   Q. But if the problem was a structural problem rather than
  18     a lack of understanding of the post holder, then it was
  19     not something that was liable to get better over time?
  20   A. Well, she was a great help to many families and I will
  21     leave it at that -- or she has been a great help to
  22     families, may I leave it at that.
  23   Q. Tell me, please, about Freda Gardner. How did she
  24     appear on the scene and how did she impact on Helen
  25     Stratton's role or Helen Vegoda's role?
   1   A. I knew Freda Gardner when she, I suppose, started with
   2     Professor Angelini, or even earlier, as, what was she,
   3     a Research Fellow under Professor Angelini.
   4   Q. She came initially to further an academic career?
   5   A. Yes.
   6   Q. To complete, I think, a PhD?
   7   A. That is right, and I knew her while she was completing
   8     that PhD.
   9   Q. And she was a clinical psychologist?
  10   A. That is right.
  11   Q. To what extent did she guide or supervise Helen Stratton
  12     in her work?
  13   A. There came a point when Helen Stratton was certainly not
  14     coping. I am not saying -- she was not coping as
  15     a person, as herself; she was finding it very, very
  16     hard, and I knew Freda Gardner, and Helen knew Freda
  17     Gardner, and asked Freda if she would give Helen some
  18     support, because she certainly needed it badly.
  19   Q. Was that because of the volume of work she had to do, or
  20     because of the strain of the work she had to do?
  21   A. The strain of the work she had to do and the time she
  22     had to do it. She was on call, often she was in there
  23     quite late, quite early in the morning, and that had
  24     been going on over quite a long time.
  25   Q. You said, I think, earlier on, that the creation of this
   1     post was somebody who was not going to be working
   2     shifts?
   3   A. Yes.
   4   Q. So it was essentially a day job?
   5   A. Supposedly.
   6   Q. With fixed hours?
   7   A. No, flexible hours.
   8   Q. But a set number of hours a week?
   9   A. I do not know. I have not got her job description.
  10     I can remember when she came to me, when she was
  11     particularly tired or something, you know, I said "For
  12     goodness sake, if you worked late last night --", but
  13     I was only giving a common sense advice, really. I did
  14     not hold her job description, or the contract.
  15   Q. If she had been working perhaps long hours for
  16     a successive number of days and an operation concluded
  17     unsuccessfully in the early evening, what would you
  18     expect her to do?
  19   A. She would probably have said to that family that she
  20     would be there when the child came back from surgery.
  21   Q. And if --
  22   A. And she would be there.
  23   Q. If the surgery overran its expected time, she would
  24     wait, would she?
  25   A. I think she did.
   1   Q. Was she paid overtime?
   2   A. I do not know.
   3   Q. And there was no substitute that could come "off the
   4     bench" for Helen Stratton, because she was the only
   5     person fulfilling that role?
   6   A. Yes. I would sometimes go for her, if she was on
   7     holiday or anything.
   8   Q. She took up her post, I think, in the autumn of 1990?
   9   A. Yes, October.
  10   Q. October 1990. Initially, the post was for three years?
  11   A. That is right.
  12   Q. You said there came a time when she was obviously not
  13     coping. Are you able to help me with when that time
  14     was?
  15   A. No. Probably spring 1993? Something like that. But
  16     she did better when she had the support of Freda
  17     Gardner.
  18   Q. So your recollection would be that it was in about the
  19     spring of 1993 --
  20   A. Yes, I would think. I do not know.
  21   Q. -- that things began to get on top of Helen Stratton?
  22   A. About then.
  23   Q. Was there anything that you noticed that would explain
  24     why at that particular time things should get on top of
  25     her?
   1   A. Obviously there were babies who were dying, very, very
   2     sadly, which upset her dreadfully.
   3   Q. More then than previously?
   4   A. I think so, perhaps. But then, do not forget, I have
   5     been involved with paediatric cardiac surgery for 40
   6     years, since my daughter was born, which was the early
   7     days of cardiac surgery. So I have been through times
   8     like this in the past when new procedures have started,
   9     so I have always lived with -- well, when my daughter
  10     was born she was considered inoperable for eight years,
  11     so I have always lived close to the fact that your child
  12     is born with a very serious problem, and that is a very
  13     likely outcome.
  14   Q. Your perception was that Helen Stratton was under
  15     enormous pressure at that time, perhaps more pressure
  16     than she could cope with at that stage?
  17   A. Yes.
  18   Q. And would it be fair to say that you perceived there to
  19     be, at that time, a possible reason for that increase in
  20     stress?
  21   A. Yes, I have stated that.
  22   Q. -- was that there was a larger number of deaths than
  23     previously, and you understood that to be linked to
  24     a new procedure that was being carried out?
  25   A. I believe so.
   1   Q. Do you know which procedure that was?
   2   A. No.
   3   Q. When did Helen Stratton first make known to you this
   4     particularly difficult strain she was under?
   5   A. I cannot recall. She would come up and have a cup of
   6     coffee and talk things through, in a very informal way.
   7   Q. You saw each other regularly?
   8   A. Yes.
   9   Q. For a chat?
  10   A. Yes.
  11   Q. So the likelihood is, is it, that you would have known
  12     fairly quickly when she became under this strain?
  13   A. Yes. That is when I got in touch with Freda Gardner.
  14     I was not qualified to help her; I was only somebody she
  15     could talk to.
  16   Q. So the probability is that you would have known that she
  17     was under strain, you would have noticed she was under
  18     strain, and either put her in touch with Freda Gardner
  19     or suggested to Freda Gardner that she contacted Helen
  20     Stratton. Is that how it was?
  21   A. Yes. I asked Freda Gardner to contact Helen Stratton,
  22     I think.
  23   Q. Julia Thomas, you have mentioned a few times. She was
  24     the senior sister in Ward 5, was she?
  25   A. Yes -- she was not at that time. Fiona Thomas was at
   1     that time, I think.
   2   Q. But Julia Thomas, I think, resigned, did she not?
   3   A. As senior sister, or ward manager, or whatever Nurse
   4     Manager she was.
   5   Q. What impact did that have on Helen Stratton's role?
   6   A. I do not know.
   7   Q. Can I take you to your witness statement, WIT 269/4?
   8     Paragraph 14, the bottom of the page. We see now where
   9     the previous question came from:
  10        "After Sister Julia Thomas resigned as Nurse
  11     Manager, I never felt the managers of the unit
  12     appreciated the importance of the post of liaison sister
  13     and with voluntary funding considered the post to be
  14     supernumerary. They did not give Helen Stratton the
  15     support she needed in such a demanding and emotionally
  16     draining position. Helen was on call for parents almost
  17     24 hours a day and she also gave support to the nursing
  18     staff."
  19        What was the nature of the change you obviously
  20     noticed --
  21   A. Sister Julia Thomas was very instrumental in setting up
  22     the post, so she was committed to it. Fiona Thomas took
  23     over from her, and the role, I think, was bigger. She
  24     was, I felt, more interested in adult patients,
  25     probably, than the paediatric side of it, and Julia was,
   1     as I say, she set the post up, she was committed to it.
   2     After that, Helen was there and she was doing in the
   3     early days such a good job that she took a lot of
   4     pressure off the rest of the unit, but because she was
   5     quietly getting on with her work and doing what she was,
   6     I do not think that the others always recognised her
   7     needs.
   8        But I was not there. I am only on observation,
   9     I used to go in at the weekends and other times, but
  10     Helen certainly, in the first two years, I believe did
  11     an excellent job.
  12   Q. You had been around the hospital for some time by this
  13     stage?
  14   A. Yes.
  15   Q. You did not work there, but you were a well-known face
  16     in Ward 5 by this stage, and I think it is fair to say,
  17     a respected face as well. Did you ever mention, perhaps
  18     on the QT, to some of the managers or clinicians in the
  19     unit, "I think you ought to help Helen Stratton, she is
  20     under pressure"?
  21   A. Probably.
  22   Q. Would that be the sort of thing you would mention to the
  23     General Manager, for example?
  24   A. Yes, I would probably have mentioned it to Fiona Thomas
  25     or somebody like that.
   1   Q. Would you have mentioned it to one of the senior
   2     managers, perhaps?
   3   A. No, not to --
   4   Q. To Lesley Salmon?
   5   A. I may have done. I cannot recall. We had this
   6     presentation each year, I can remember.
   7   Q. Would you have mentioned it to Mr Wisheart or one of the
   8     surgeons?
   9   A. No, I doubt it, because I did not think it was really
  10     their worry.
  11   Q. But they were the leader of the team?
  12   A. Yes, but I was not involved in the team. I was
  13     outside. I funded that post, and in fact, when those
  14     posts were in position, I withdrew to a certain extent,
  15     because I knew there was somebody in a professional
  16     capacity working on the unit.
  17   Q. As she was in her third year in the post, that is
  18     essentially the end of 1992 and into 1993, the initial
  19     three-year funding for Helen Stratton's post was
  20     obviously coming to an end?
  21   A. Yes.
  22   Q. How did she feel about the ending of her post? Did she
  23     want to continue or not?
  24   A. No, well, she wanted to move on to something else. She
  25     needed to move on to something else.
   1   Q. For her own good, you mean?
   2   A. Yes.
   3   Q. And you were aware of that?
   4   A. That is right. I encouraged her to move on to something
   5     else.
   6   Q. When did she indicate that she wanted to move on to
   7     something else?
   8   A. Probably -- her contract should have ended in the
   9     October, but she had not found anything that she
  10     considered suitable to move on to at about that time,
  11     and so, from the good of our hearts, if you like, we
  12     extended her contract for six months to give her
  13     a chance to find a compatible job. We had felt she had
  14     done a good job -- she had been worth the money we had
  15     paid out for her.
  16   Q. So it was in her interests to move on?
  17   A. Yes.
  18   Q. The strain having been unbearable?
  19   A. Yes.
  20   Q. But the role that she fulfilled was a useful one?
  21   A. Yes, very.
  22   Q. So would it follow that the Heart Circle would be
  23     anxious that she would be appropriately replaced?
  24   A. Yes.
  25   Q. Was she?
   1   A. No.
   2   Q. Why not?
   3   A. I think -- well, when I used to speak, they were not
   4     prepared for the funding, and at that time there was the
   5     talk, I think, of them being moved -- it was in a state
   6     of flux anyway. I got disappointed that they were not
   7     going to take on that post, because I felt it had
   8     demonstrated it was a worthwhile post.
   9   Q. Who is the "they"?
  10   A. It would have been Rachel Ferris, I expect.
  11   Q. And the "state of flux" was what? What was the state of
  12     flux?
  13   A. I feel there was talk at that time about moving the
  14     services up to the Children's Hospital, but I have no
  15     notes. I am just, you know, trying to search back.
  16   Q. Leaving all the adults at the BRI?
  17   A. Yes.
  18   Q. But that was not something that was going to occur for
  19     some time?
  20   A. April 1995.
  21   Q. Yes. Helen Stratton's three years was up in October
  22     1993?
  23   A. Then we gave her six months to 1994.
  24   Q. I think she left actually in February?
  25   A. Yes, but the contract could have gone on until six
   1     months after October -- May 1994.
   2   Q. Mr Langstaff is good at arithmetic. He tells me it is
   3     April 1994.
   4   A. April 1994, or thereabouts.
   5   Q. In fact she left in February 1994?
   6   A. Yes.
   7   Q. So what happened to this post between February 1994 and
   8     the move of paediatric cardiac surgery to the Children's
   9     Hospital?
  10   A. The post went, and I was concerned that there was no
  11     thought of putting it back in place, and I was very
  12     concerned that all that she had achieved would be lost.
  13   Q. So did you make a fuss about that?
  14   A. I did, and I eventually -- I spoke to Dr Gardner and
  15     asked her to do research on the needs of families and
  16     children, because although I was saying that I thought
  17     she had done a good job by and large and I thought that
  18     the post had been worthwhile, I had no documentation to
  19     prove it, and I felt that the only way forward, really,
  20     was to get a research document looking appropriately at
  21     the needs of children and their families.
  22   Q. And that is a document you have appended to your
  23     statement, which I have already referred to?
  24   A. That is right.
  25   Q. So you hoped that this research you commissioned from
   1     Dr Gardner, for which I think you were charged --
   2   A. #11,000 --
   3   Q. By?
   4   A. Professor Angelini.
   5   Q. Because --
   6   A. Of Dr Gardner's time.
   7   Q. Because she was an employee of the Trust?
   8   A. She was employed by the British Heart Foundation,
   9     I believe, at that time. I am not sure.
  10   Q. Attached to the University?
  11   A. Yes.
  12   Q. As Professor Angelini obviously was?
  13   A. Yes.
  14   Q. You hoped that this document would indicate that there
  15     was a need for this role?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. If it had been generally accepted that Helen Stratton
  18     had done good work in her three years, particularly in
  19     the first two years, then it would not have been
  20     necessary for the Heart Circle to commission an
  21     expensive report in order to prove in that?
  22   A. Yes, I think it would. I think that unit was always
  23     under-resourced and I think they would still have found
  24     it hard to resource the actual post.
  25   Q. Perhaps it is important to unpick what the resistance
   1     was to replacing Helen Stratton. Was it that her job
   2     was perceived as being unnecessary, or was it perceived
   3     that it was just, perhaps, necessary but had to take its
   4     place in the queue of resources?
   5   A. That is right.
   6   Q. But if the Heart Circle had been funding her post
   7     initially, would it not have been possible for the Heart
   8     Circle to have paid for somebody else to replace her
   9     through 1994 and 1995?
  10   A. We had used up #70,000 by that time, and we did not wish
  11     to put any further funding at that time and until the
  12     future of paediatric services was resolved, into
  13     a further post.
  14        So what we did was, we commissioned that research
  15     document which proved clearly that the post was needed,
  16     and when that was available, the paediatric services had
  17     moved up to the Children's Hospital. As a result of
  18     that research, we offered to fund a post in the
  19     Children's Hospital, which we did, and after six months
  20     of that post, the Trust took it over, so it is now
  21     a National Health Service post.
  22   Q. Can we have a look at UBHT 135/37, please? This is
  23     a meeting of something called the Paediatric Interest
  24     Group, 6th April 1994. Slightly curiously Helen
  25     Stratton's apologies are given to this meeting, but she
   1     had actually left by that stage. We see it is attended
   2     by Fiona Thomas, Helen Passfield the playleader, Freda
   3     Gardner and Steve Pryn, who was an anaesthetist.
   4        Can we look at paragraph 1:
   5        "Helen's post: 50 per cent funding required with
   6     Children's 25/25. The post is being planned. Action
   7     will be taken to fill the post in the next few months.
   8     Covering Helen's work will be discussed at the Sisters'
   9     meeting. Freda will read the job summary which Helen
  10     has prepared to ensure that developments will be
  11     maintained."
  12   A. I have never seen that.
  13   Q. Do you remember seeing the summary of her own job which
  14     Helen Stratton prepared as she was leaving?
  15   A. I cannot recall, but I have certainly never seen that.
  16   Q. Were you a party to the discussions which may have taken
  17     place among the Sisters about covering or replacing
  18     Helen Stratton's work?
  19   A. I cannot recall.
  20   Q. It looks as if --
  21   A. It looks as though we might have said "If the post keeps
  22     going, we will", but I honestly cannot recall. I have
  23     no memory, no minutes, no nothing.
  24   Q. The "funding required for Children's, 25/25": what does
  25     that mean to you?
   1   A. I do not know. It does not mean anything to me.
   2   Q. Was it ever suggested that funding to continue this post
   3     would come from three sources: from the Children's
   4     Hospital, from the BRI and from the Heart Circle,
   5     divided up? Was that ever suggested?
   6   A. I cannot recall. I never had any documentation asking
   7     for that, or supporting that.
   8   Q. You did tell me about what happened subsequently, when
   9     the paediatric cardiac surgery moved to the Children's
  10     Hospital, which was very much at the end of the period
  11     that the Inquiry is looking at. It is obviously
  12     important to know what did happen.
  13        What was the position in terms of the number of
  14     posts? Was the old Helen Vegoda role and the old Helen
  15     Stratton role conflated into one post?
  16   A. Yes. We funded, for 6 months, the Helen Stratton role,
  17     at the Children's Hospital.
  18   Q. It was performed by whom?
  19   A. Was it Kathy Selway? I think it was Kathy Selway, and
  20     after six months, the Trust took over that position, so
  21     they released us from the remainder of the contract. It
  22     is still a Trust position.
  23   Q. So the position today is that the role which was Helen
  24     Stratton's for those three years is now funded by the
  25     UBHT?
   1   A. That is right.
   2   Q. And the Heart Circle, obviously, would still be
   3     interested in that role. I appreciate you have been,
   4     I think, taking a back seat over the last couple of
   5     years, but are you able to comment as to how this new
   6     arrangement works?
   7   A. It was working brilliantly until Kathy Selway got moved
   8     to Australia with her husband. She took maternity leave
   9     and she was coming back. An appointment had been made
  10     in the meanwhile. When she came back after maternity
  11     leave, I was wanting there to be a development of that
  12     post to look after adolescents and that was going to
  13     happen, but unfortunately -- I do not know the present
  14     position, because I have not spoken to anyone this side
  15     of the summer, but Kathy, within a month, her husband
  16     got transferred to Australia, so she went. So that was
  17     unfortunate.
  18   MR MACLEAN: Sir, I have nearly finished the questions
  19     I want to ask Mrs Pratten, but not quite. I think in
  20     fairness to the witness, it might be appropriate to have
  21     a small break?
  22   THE CHAIRMAN: I think we will take 15 minutes, shall we,
  23     and therefore reconvene just before 11 o'clock.
  24   (10.45 am)
  25               (A short break)
   1   (11.05 am)
   2   MR MACLEAN: Mrs Pratten, the discussions that took place
   3     about the surgery which patients were going to undergo
   4     would generally take place at the meeting which we
   5     referred to earlier between the surgeon and the parent,
   6     usually at the BCH, after the diagnosis and the
   7     catheterisation; is that right?
   8   A. Yes.
   9   Q. So, for example, if a child was to be operated on by
  10     Mr Wisheart, he would have a discussion with the parents
  11     there about what he was going to do, and the initial
  12     idea was, as we discussed earlier, that the Helen
  13     Stratton type person would be able to facilitate the
  14     parents' understanding of what was being said; is that
  15     right?
  16   A. That is right.
  17   Q. What experience did you yourself have of being present
  18     at meetings like that, between the surgeon and the
  19     parent?
  20   A. I never went to those. I did occasionally sit in at the
  21     BRI when a family asked me to sit in with them with
  22     Mr Wisheart.
  23   Q. How often did that --
  24   A. Going back, in the 1980s, probably, but before Helen
  25     Stratton's post, anyway.
   1   Q. We discovered I think this morning that in fact Helen
   2     Stratton did not go to those meetings?
   3   A. I am talking about the ones at the BRI.
   4   Q. We have been at cross-purposes. Let us start again. To
   5     what extent did you have experience of being present at
   6     meetings when surgery was discussed between the surgeon
   7     and the parents?
   8   A. Only occasionally, prior to surgery at the BRI.
   9   Q. What time are we talking about?
  10   A. The night before surgery, sometimes.
  11   Q. How many years ago would this have been?
  12   A. In the 1980s.
  13   Q. Before the Helen Stratton role was instituted?
  14   A. That is right.
  15   Q. Would that meeting be the first time that the risks of
  16     surgery would have been discussed with parents?
  17   A. As I had not been to the previous meeting, I would not
  18     know, would I. I mean, risks were discussed I suppose
  19     at that time. I can remember mostly the care with which
  20     Mr Wisheart would go through what he was intending to do
  21     and draw pictures and things like that, and, yes, I can
  22     remember risks being mentioned, but I never knew that
  23     years later I would have to remember what was said.
  24   Q. I am not asking you about any specific instance.
  25   A. I can remember a lot of care and a lot of consideration.
   1   Q. These discussions would take some time, would they?
   2   A. Yes, a long time.
   3   Q. With the aid of diagrams and so on?
   4   A. That is right.
   5   Q. I think, as I mentioned at the very outset, you gave
   6     evidence at the General Medical Council and I think you
   7     were asked -- perhaps I could read you the question you
   8     were asked. You were asked:
   9        "You have told us something about the families'
  10     reactions and thoughts about the risks of surgery and so
  11     on. How did Mr Wisheart go about dealing with the
  12     question of risks with the families when you spoke to
  13     them?"
  14        You said:
  15        "I can always remember saying to families, because
  16     I would try and help them to get to know Mr Wisheart
  17     a little better before this consultation, so they could
  18     be relaxed."
  19        So you would have an initial discussion with the
  20     parents before meeting Mr Wisheart; is that right?
  21   A. I would go through the questions I thought would help
  22     them, because if you are very nervous, you forget every
  23     question you want to ask.
  24   Q. The next sentence of your answer was:
  25        "It is very important that the family is as
   1     relaxed as possible."
   2   A. Yes.
   3   Q. "I would always as standard say, 'Mr Wisheart will paint
   4     the picture blacker than black' and that is what --
   5   A. I can remember saying that regularly.
   6   Q. Why did you say that?
   7   A. When I used to say he would paint it blacker than black,
   8     because that is a possible outcome. Death is a possible
   9     outcome -- a very possible outcome, because all of these
  10     children are very sick children. They all have very
  11     serious congenital heart problems. I can remember, on
  12     occasion -- I would say that to parents whether I sat in
  13     on the interview or not; I can remember when I did, he
  14     would, in my view, always mention that there was a grave
  15     problem, and that is going back, mind, to the 1980s.
  16     I would probably go on saying that after that, because
  17     I do feel that there is a tremendous risk, and we all
  18     had these very sick babies.
  19   Q. So say that somebody would paint a picture blacker than
  20     black would suggest, would it not --
  21   A. Realistic, though, is it not?
  22   Q. -- the view that would be given would be erring on the
  23     pessimistic side of the skills as opposed to the
  24     optimistic?
  25   A. Or making an awareness of the pessimistic side of the
   1     skill, yes. I was trying to help them to ask the right
   2     questions and to have an expectation that they are not
   3     going to come out and say "Tomorrow is going to be
   4     a wonderful day", because it could go wrong.
   5   Q. To say to somebody that the picture that is going to be
   6     painted would be blacker than black, might, might it
   7     not, plant in the parent's head the view that the advice
   8     or the picture they were going to be given would be
   9     a conservative one?
  10   A. I think I would sum it up that you have to give your
  11     child a chance of surgery, and, yes, hopefully it will
  12     be a good result. I think that was the line.
  13   Q. If the picture that was painted by the surgeon was, let
  14     us say, "The risk to your child is 1 in 10 of
  15     mortality. For every 10 times I perform an operation,
  16     one of my patients on average will die". If the parent
  17     heard that being said by the surgeon and they were
  18     conscious of the fact that the surgeon painted the
  19     picture blacker than black, might they not be assured
  20     that that 1 in 10 was very much at the upper end of the
  21     scale?
  22   A. I do not think I got very much involved in the
  23     percentage line. I do not think that would be a remark
  24     I would make. I think it is very easy, at the time of
  25     open-heart surgery, that is part of a programme, you
   1     have had diagnosis, you have had catheter. This is the
   2     end of the programme, and you go in feeling very
   3     optimistic. I think suddenly it can hit you very hard,
   4     when your optimism is hit by a risk situation that
   5     sometimes you have put to the back of your mind. I know
   6     that was the case when my child had surgery. I knew
   7     that her only chance was surgery. The risk I was given
   8     was a 20 per cent one of success.
   9   Q. 8 out of 10 would die?
  10   A. 80 per cent, yes, and therefore, I learned to ignore
  11     percentages because I had to have hope and pray, you
  12     know, that it would be a successful outcome. And
  13     likewise, you can give somebody 99 per cent opportunity
  14     when they go in to have a tooth out or something. You
  15     know, percentages are a colour, but I just feel that,
  16     yes, it hit you hard that risk -- you have gone through
  17     it probably at an outpatients appointment, but it is
  18     when you actually get there, into the hospital itself,
  19     that you are really hit by the risk of what you are
  20     letting your child undergo.
  21   Q. When you had this discussion with the parents, would you
  22     explain to them who you were and how long you had been
  23     around and about the hospital?
  24   A. Certainly.
  25   Q. And you would be able to impart to them some information
   1     about the ethos of the hospital and how it worked?
   2   A. I would try. I would never get involved in anything
   3     medical.
   4   Q. If a parent's child was going to be operated on by, let
   5     us take Mr Wisheart as an example, they not having met
   6     him before, perhaps, what kind of information would you
   7     give them? What would you tell them in order to
   8     reassure them?
   9   A. I would have said he was a kind, caring man. In my
  10     view, that is exactly how I found him.
  11   Q. What would you say about any other surgeon?
  12   A. Mr Dhasmana the same: a very dedicated surgeon.
  13   Q. What about the setup of the hospital, the nursing staff
  14     in the intensive care unit?
  15   A. In the BRI?
  16   Q. Yes.
  17   A. I would have said the nursing staff were exceedingly --
  18     when I went in, anyway, I always felt they were
  19     exceedingly caring and had tried to get a good rapport
  20     with the parent by the child's bed. I was aware
  21     regularly of a very caring situation in ITU in the BRI.
  22   Q. You were familiar with the intensive care unit in the
  23     BRI?
  24   A. Yes.
  25   Q. Where the children and the adults were taken
   1     post-operatively over a long period of years?
   2   A. Yes.
   3   Q. Who did you feel was in charge of that unit? Who was in
   4     charge of the organisation of the intensive care
   5     treatment of the patients?
   6   A. I do not know. I mean, the senior sister, I suppose.
   7   Q. What would the role of the surgeon be after the
   8     operation? Would you expect to see Mr Dhasmana --
   9   A. They were there often, at any time.
  10   Q. Mr Wisheart the same?
  11   A. Yes.
  12   Q. What about Dr Joffe or the cardiologists?
  13   A. No, they were not there as much.
  14   Q. How frequently would you see them in the intensive care
  15     unit at the BRI?
  16   A. Do not forget, I would not be there all day, I would pop
  17     in for half an hour here, half an hour there, often when
  18     I was invited by the ward or at weekends when I would
  19     try and bring a grant into the family or help them in
  20     some way, but I did not often see them on the cardiac
  21     surgery unit.
  22   Q. How would you characterise the relationship between
  23     Mr Wisheart and Mr Dhasmana after Mr Dhasmana was
  24     appointed a consultant?
  25   A. I think he found the role of being a consultant, having
   1     been a Senior Registrar for a long time, very hard.
   2     I think an internal appointment was quite hard for him.
   3   Q. Do you think that he considered himself to be the
   4     "junior partner"?
   5   A. Yes.
   6   Q. Do you think Mr Wisheart considered himself to be the
   7     "senior partner"?
   8   A. Not particularly, but I think Mr Dhasmana considered
   9     himself very much the junior.
  10   Q. Did you consider Mr Wisheart to be essentially the
  11     senior partner?
  12   A. You have to see my role as somebody who pops in and out,
  13     friendly I hope to everybody I meet. Mr Wisheart was
  14     somebody I had known since his appointment. Mr Dhasmana
  15     I had known, and then he went to America or somewhere
  16     else, then he came back, and I was just friendly with
  17     both of them and I did not have any consideration
  18     between either. I had known them both over a long
  19     period of time. I never got involved in the medical
  20     side or the politics of their work. I used to,
  21     particularly Mr Wisheart, I used to ask him to come down
  22     to the branches, for example. He went down to Cornwall,
  23     I remember very well, and spoke to the group down there
  24     and gave up a couple of days to meet the families down
  25     there, which I felt was helpful when these families came
   1     up to Bristol, they knew him as a person instead of just
   2     as the surgeon.
   3   Q. I am not suggesting for a minute --
   4   A. I knew them as people but I did not get involved in the
   5     medical aspects.
   6   Q. I am not suggesting for a moment you would have treated
   7     the surgeons any different?
   8   A. No, I had no -- Mr Wisheart I had known longer as
   9     a consultant but I would give Mr Dhasmana a hug when
  10     I saw him in the corridor because that is what he
  11     liked. We had a very warm relationship.
  12   Q. To what extent did you have a relationship with the
  13     other surgeons who performed adult work?
  14   A. I knew them. Mr Hutter, particularly.
  15   Q. What was your perception of who made the crucial
  16     decisions about the development of cardiac surgery,
  17     because over the period that the Inquiry is concerned
  18     with, between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, the
  19     Inquiry has heard evidence of a very significant
  20     expansion in a number of open-heart operations at the
  21     BRI, both in adults and on children in terms of the
  22     percentage increase.
  23        You obviously saw that change happen, changes in
  24     the intensive care unit, changes in the organisation.
  25     Where did you perceive the driving force for those
   1     changes to lie?
   2   A. I suppose Mr Wisheart.
   3   Q. Were you ever aware of the particular impetus given to
   4     paediatric cardiac surgery as opposed to adult?
   5   A. I was aware in the 1990s that there was very serious
   6     consideration of a Chair in Paediatric Cardiac Surgery,
   7     but it did not in the end happen, which I really would
   8     have been delighted to have seen. I was aware, yes,
   9     that there was -- I suppose really I only considered the
  10     paediatric aspect of it, and I suppose with the
  11     expansion that was why I saw the need for a post of
  12     Helen Stratton's sort, a liaison post. It was at that
  13     time, too, that we made a designated area of that unit
  14     with a mural on the wall and made it more child friendly
  15     to try to make it more comfortable for families.
  16   Q. That was the nursery?
  17   A. Yes, there was a nursery, but there was a part of the
  18     intensive care that we made more friendly for children.
  19   Q. Did you ever meet Dr Roylance?
  20   A. No, never.
  21   Q. Or any of the other directors of the Trust?
  22   A. No.
  23   Q. Did you ever meet Margaret Maisey, for example?
  24   A. No.
  25   Q. Or Graham Nix, the Finance Director?
   1   A. I might have once. We played a very low profile.
   2   Q. Was there any other similar organisation primarily
   3     concerned with adults such as the Heart Circle was
   4     primarily concerned with children?
   5   A. No, not really.
   6   Q. Was there any similar type of organisation in another
   7     specialty in the hospital, for example, cancer or
   8     kidneys --
   9   A. I expect so, but I did not get involved with any other.
  10     We were a very low profile lot. On our committee, we
  11     had consultants, we had nurses, we had social workers,
  12     and we all worked together. That is how we looked at
  13     our charity, that it was a partnership between the
  14     medical people and the families.
  15   Q. We talked a little at the beginning about the financial
  16     resources of the Heart Circle. It is a charity?
  17   A. Yes.
  18   Q. It had no income of its own?
  19   A. No.
  20   Q. Apart from, perhaps, some interest on the money in the
  21     bank. Money was raised by volunteers?
  22   A. Yes.
  23   Q. What were the priorities for the Heart Circle in terms
  24     of spending its money? Its purpose was to spend the
  25     money that came in?
   1   A. We would first identify where we felt there was a need,
   2     so in the early days it was for accommodation.
   3        So we identified that there should be far better
   4     accommodation for families, because in the early days
   5     they were put into bed and breakfast in any part of
   6     Bristol, so some of them would get a bus in the wrong
   7     direction, get terribly lost, terribly worried, terribly
   8     unhappy. So our first big project, for us, that we
   9     looked at, was accommodation. After that we looked at
  10     play, which we considered very important.
  11   Q. That was Helen Passfield's role?
  12   A. That was Helen Passfield and getting play on
  13     a structured basis. I think the hardest job there was
  14     to get a room assigned for play, because the hospital
  15     did not see the need for a separate area for play away
  16     from the "nursery" as it was called, where the sleeping
  17     beds were, and then Helen Passfield was put in post and
  18     that post is still funded by the Heart Circle and the
  19     Children's Hospital, in fact. That has been a very
  20     valuable post.
  21   Q. What type of financial commitment did that involve?
  22   A. Sadly, play workers are not paid very much. I think
  23     #10,000 or #11,000.
  24   Q. Per year?
  25   A. Yes. And then from play we looked at support. And
   1     then --
   2   Q. What about the provision of equipment?
   3   A. To define "equipment", we would say that it needed to be
   4     in the medical interests of the child but beyond the
   5     budget of the Health Service. There were small items of
   6     equipment that people wanted to buy and that they
   7     actually raised money for that you had to always honour,
   8     but I can only remember two large pieces -- well, two
   9     reasonably large pieces of equipment that we bought.
  10     One was a portable Doppler machine that the
  11     cardiologists were able to take to all the periphery
  12     hospitals before Dopplers were part of the general
  13     equipment in these hospitals. I think Dr Joffe had to
  14     buy a different car to put the Doppler in the back and
  15     they would take it down to Treliske or Taunton or
  16     wherever with them, so they had a better means of
  17     diagnosis. That was an important piece of equipment
  18     that we felt was not going to be funded by any other
  19     source. In fact, we had to pay the insurance on that.
  20   Q. Why was it not going to be funded by some other source?
  21   A. Nobody else was prepared to fund it. So if we felt that
  22     a Doppler, albeit a portable one, was a better means of
  23     diagnosis in the periphery clinics and would save
  24     families having to come all the way to Bristol, then
  25     that was a worthwhile piece of equipment to buy.
   1        The other big piece of equipment we bought was
   2     a large Doppler in the BRI for Ward 5. That was at
   3     a cost of #48,000 in total. Dr Jordan suggested we
   4     bought that. He felt that it would be very valuable if
   5     there was a critical time in the care of a child, to
   6     have an immediate Doppler on the ward which could be
   7     used by the staff who were trained to use it.
   8        The thinking had been that there was a Doppler of
   9     this magnitude in the hospital and that when it was
  10     needed it would be brought up from the x-ray department
  11     with its own staff. This would lead to a delay in
  12     bringing it up to the unit, and Dr Jordan really felt
  13     that it would be money well spent because it was obvious
  14     that the Trust would not buy a second one. I would not
  15     totally fund it. On my recommendation, we would not
  16     totally fund it, and it was suggested that we 50 per
  17     cent fund it with the surgeons' fund.
  18   Q. Just help me, Mrs Pratten, if you can with the surgeons'
  19     fund. What was the surgeons' fund?
  20   A. I am not sure, but it was other money that would be
  21     available that did not come out of the Trust. I presume
  22     it was their amenities fund or whatever. I felt, and
  23     I have always felt this: if the surgeons make
  24     a considerable contribution to a charitable donation, as
  25     it were, it means they are going to use the equipment;
   1     they are not going to throw their money away. That in
   2     fact proved the point. We were able to get this quite
   3     fast. We put in, I think, #28,000, if I remember and
   4     the surgeons put in #20,000. I cannot remember.
   5     Something like that.
   6   Q. Dr Jordan retired in 1993, I think it was. So we are
   7     obviously talking about the period before that?
   8   A. He had retired in 1993, was it not?
   9   Q. 1993, yes, so obviously we are talking about a period
  10     before that?
  11   A. Yes.
  12   Q. Do you remember when this piece of equipment was bought?
  13   A. 1991, something like that. 1992, maybe. I honestly
  14     cannot recall.
  15   Q. Was it Dr Jordan who explained that the Trust, as it
  16     would then have been, was not willing to fund another
  17     machine?
  18   A. That is right, because they had one in the unit that
  19     could be brought up.
  20   Q. You yourself were not involved in any discussions with
  21     the Trust?
  22   A. No.
  23   Q. So it was a question of prioritisation, was it, so far
  24     as the Trust was concerned?
  25   A. Yes.
   1   Q. What happened to this piece of equipment when the
   2     surgery moved to the Children's Hospital?
   3   A. I was very glad to know that while it was there it was
   4     very valuable, but when it came to moving to the
   5     Children's Hospital, I then had to have quite a lot of
   6     discussion, because the Heart Circle had put quite a lot
   7     of equipment and amenities into the BRI and we needed
   8     some means of remuneration for it. I cannot recall
   9     whether we got #4,000 or #5,000 in the end. We
  10     certainly got a figure for the Doppler. They would not
  11     let it go up to the Children's Hospital because they
  12     said they were using it so much for research at that
  13     stage, and I said "We have to have some contribution as
  14     to its worth". They kept telling me that any machine is
  15     out of date the day you buy it, and eventually, we came
  16     to an agreement of a sum of money.
  17   Q. Can we have a look at UBHT 225/3, please? Let us see
  18     the whole letter, first of all. It is a letter to you
  19     from --
  20   THE CHAIRMAN: There is an address at the top of the
  21     letter.
  22   MR MACLEAN: We have passed that now. It is a letter from
  23     Mrs Ferris to you, Mrs Pratten. It is dated 1995. Can
  24     I just take you to the paragraph beginning, if we scroll
  25     down, please:
   1        "Professor Vann Jones and I are keen to
   2     acknowledge the huge commitment made by you and the
   3     Heart Circle in paediatric surgery at the BRI over the
   4     last 23 years. We know that the equipment that you have
   5     purchased totals many, many thousands of pounds and that
   6     the purchase of equipment has been just one aspect of
   7     the support you have. It would be helpful if you would
   8     let me have a list of some of the things that you have
   9     done so that they can be included in the presentation."
  10        If we look at the first paragraph:
  11        "Thank you for meeting me on 1st December 1995 to
  12     discuss the value of equipment that did not transfer to
  13     the Bristol Children's Hospital. The pictures in the
  14     corridor which were not in my original list have now
  15     been included and full details are shown in the attached
  16     list. The total value is #4,425."
  17        Was that the sum that was, by a rather complicated
  18     process, paid back to the Heart Circle?
  19   A. It was jolly good to get #4,425 at that stage. They
  20     kept saying they did not have the money anyway and
  21     eventually it came out of the special trustees and what
  22     was done was instead of any money passing hands, they
  23     bought a machine for the new cardiac intensive care in
  24     the Children's Hospital.
  25        Yes. I gave them a list of, I think, the things
   1     that I thought had some value, but things --
   2   Q. Including the Doppler machine?
   3   A. Including the Doppler machine. We would have had a 50,
   4     60 per cent value. I did not know, I could not refer to
   5     anything, as to what a three-year old Doppler machine's
   6     value was.
   7   Q. That was the deal that was done between the BRI and the
   8     Heart Circle?
   9   A. It was a fight to get that.
  10   Q. A fight with whom?
  11   A. I said that the Charity Commissioners would expect us to
  12     show something for what we had put into the BRI, and,
  13     yes, with Rachel Ferris, I think. I think I used to say
  14     that I expected some return because we were leaving such
  15     a lot in the hospital, anyway.
  16   Q. Can we look at 225/10, please? Again, just scanning
  17     down the page, this is just a little bit before the
  18     letter we have just seen. This is from you to Rachel
  19     Ferris:
  20        "You give a total amount of #4,000 with no
  21     breakdown. I have not been given an inventory of what
  22     has been taken up to BCH and what remains in Ward 5.
  23     I should be grateful if you could indicate how this
  24     #4,000 is made up and what percentage relates to the
  25     echo machine", that is the Doppler we have been talking
   1     about, is it?
   2   A. Yes.
   3   Q. "When it was purchased to Heart Circle donated #25,000
   4     out of a total cost of #48,000. This information will
   5     have to be supplied to the Charity Commissioners, who in
   6     1994 expressed their concern to us about the purchase of
   7     equipment for hospitals."
   8        Is there anything to add to the Charity
   9     Commissioners' concerns?
  10   A. I think we had to show, like with this Doppler, that
  11     there was a second one, but it would be in the interests
  12     of the care of the children that there was one on the
  13     unit and that they were satisfied with that.
  14   Q. Was this the two Doppler machines; were they the only
  15     two significant pieces of equipment that the Heart
  16     Circle --
  17   A. That I can remember. There may have been more, but you
  18     are asking me to go back and I do not have a list and
  19     I -- you know. Those are the two that stand out.
  20   Q. The report that Dr Gardner produced, if we just deal
  21     with that a little, is annexed to your statement and it
  22     is at WIT 269/13.
  23        If we go over the page to page 14, we see from the
  24     second paragraph that the report was based in large part
  25     on a questionnaire that had been produced to establish
   1     the views of 150 parents who were using the services
   2     offered or who had used the services over the last five
   3     years?
   4   A. Yes.
   5   Q. So all the empirical research for this work was based on
   6     questionnaires of parents whose children had used the
   7     Bristol hospitals; is that right?
   8   A. Yes.
   9   Q. And, for example, if we go to page 27 of the report,
  10     page 269/40, we see at the bottom of the page: "Able to
  11     ask hospital staff for information". 79 per cent of the
  12     people had said yes, 13 per cent of the people had said
  13     no, and 8 per cent were unsure.
  14        Page 35, which is WIT 269/48:
  15        "Overall satisfaction with the service provided",
  16     86 per cent were satisfied and 14 per cent were not.
  17        What was the reaction to this report when it was
  18     presented by the Heart Circle?
  19   A. Freda Gardner presented it. Again, I am going back
  20     a bit. I can remember getting the responses from it
  21     that as a result of that report, they felt that such
  22     a post should continue. I can remember the conclusions
  23     from it rather than the actual presentation.
  24   Q. We perhaps do not have to go through in it great detail,
  25     but let us take as an example WIT 269/45, the second
   1     half of the page, please, under the heading "Comments".
   2     We see the second one, for example:
   3        "Family support worker very good".
   4        The one after the next one:
   5        "Family support worker was awful. Said the wrong
   6     thing at the wrong time."
   7        Obviously people are going to differ in their
   8     opinions?
   9   A. That is right, and it is personality, too.
  10   Q. What was the general lesson to be drawn from this
  11     research?
  12   A. That somebody in post, with special professional
  13     qualifications, would be of great value, but always have
  14     to take into account that no one person is going to be
  15     able to satisfy the needs of every family.
  16   Q. What about the particular question of bereavement:
  17     obviously the idea is if everything goes well, there
  18     will be no bereavements, but there obviously are in any
  19     hospital. To what extent did the Heart Circle see
  20     itself as being involved in bereavement counselling or
  21     support?
  22   A. I considered myself to be a friend to anybody I could
  23     help, particularly to families I knew, as a friend.
  24     I have no qualifications, but we did pay Helen Vegoda to
  25     go to Edinburgh, I think it was, on a bereavement
   1     course, to give her the opportunity of more training in
   2     that field.
   3   Q. She went on that course?
   4   A. Yes. When I was with the Children's Heart Federation,
   5     which is a group of circles like ourselves, and I was
   6     talking to them, I was Chairman of that for a short
   7     time, about trying to set up a cardiac bereavement
   8     group, because I did not feel I was properly qualified,
   9     but we did not -- during my time there, we did not get
  10     it off the ground, sadly.
  11   Q. Mrs Pratten, I want to come to Helen Stratton's
  12     statement, paragraph 32, WIT 256/12. Just give us the
  13     context by going to the previous page, page 11.
  14     Paragraph 29. You have seen this statement,
  15     Mrs Pratten; you commented on it?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. You see from paragraph 29 that essentially Helen
  18     Stratton is recording that she had been to the
  19     Birmingham Children's Hospital and she had come back
  20     with some concerns about what was happening in Bristol
  21     compared to Birmingham. You see that she mentions
  22     Dr Bolsin, paragraph 30, just at the bottom of the
  23     page. Did you know Dr Bolsin?
  24   A. No, I met him once with Helen Stratton socially, that is
  25     all, but I might have met him on the corridor. I did
   1     not really know him. I knew who it was. I would
   2     probably say "Good morning", and, you know.
   3   Q. What about any of the other anaesthetists?
   4   A. Dr Monk was on our Heart Circle committee.
   5   Q. So you would have had reason to know him particularly?
   6   A. Yes.
   7   Q. Were you ever aware of any tensions between Dr Bolsin or
   8     any of the other anaesthetists or surgeons?
   9   A. No.
  10   Q. Let us look at paragraph 31 at the bottom of the page:
  11        "Helen Stratton said she expressed her concerns to
  12     Fiona Thomas and Lesley Salmon."
  13        Then over the page, please, to page 12:
  14        "I also raised these concerns with Jean Pratten
  15     and I realised this was a clinical issue and not really
  16     a Heart Circle issue. I knew it would be difficult
  17     raising the subject with Jean as she had known both
  18     Mr Wisheart and Mr Dhasmana for a long time and had
  19     a high regard for their clinical abilities."
  20        We see what is said.
  21        Leaving aside your reaction for a moment, can you
  22     tell me what you remember Helen Stratton expressing to
  23     you by way of concern?
  24   A. I can remember her expressing to me her concern at the
  25     deaths of babies, and the stress, the emotional stress,
   1     she found as a result of that.
   2   Q. The time period of this? Is this the period we were
   3     discussing earlier?
   4   A. I think so, yes.
   5   Q. 1993?
   6   A. I got equally distressed. Any time over the 25 years
   7     I was with the Heart Circle, I always found it very,
   8     very hard, particularly as I had been so near it myself
   9     with my own child, but I was fortunate.
  10   Q. You obviously then remembered the discussion with Helen
  11     Stratton?
  12   A. Yes. She used to come up. I used to try and help her
  13     to express her concern, but I did not feel it was the
  14     role of the Heart Circle. I used to say to her, "But
  15     you have to take this back to the hospital".
  16   Q. To take what back to the hospital?
  17   A. Her concerns to Fiona Thomas, I suppose it was. I had
  18     no -- I mean, I used to speak to people from Guy's
  19     Hospital, for example, from their organisation, the Echo
  20     organisation, and they went through times when they lost
  21     a lot of children too. It was then that I discussed
  22     this cardiac bereavement group.
  23   Q. Do you remember Helen Stratton mentioning the length of
  24     time that operations were taking at Bristol, or number
  25     of babies dying, or both?
   1   A. I think operations in Bristol always took a long time.
   2     I can remember her being concerned. I tried to give her
   3     some support. That is when I brought Freda Gardner in
   4     to help me.
   5   Q. Because she herself, Helen Stratton, was under pressure?
   6   A. That is right.
   7   Q. Do you recall Helen Stratton saying to you she had
   8     recently been to Birmingham and now had a comparator, if
   9     you like; that she, Helen Stratton, understood that
  10     operations were taking a much shorter period of time in
  11     Birmingham than comparable operations in Bristol?
  12   A. Yes, I think I can. I can recollect always thinking
  13     that there have been three generations of cardiac
  14     surgeons, and my daughter was operated on in the first
  15     generation, if you like, the early work of open-heart
  16     surgery to cure congenital heart disease. Then I look
  17     upon Mr Wisheart and Mr Dhasmana as the second
  18     generation. I can remember going to Birmingham about
  19     ten years ago, because they were having problems, quite
  20     big problems, at that time. It was at that time that
  21     they, as it were, came into the third generation of
  22     cardiac surgeons.
  23        That is what has happened in Bristol now. We have
  24     Mr Pawade, who has learned from the previous two.
  25     I feel that when I was talking to her about Birmingham,
   1     I was saying, yes, they have Mr Braun, who is of the
   2     next generation of cardiac surgeon, but I would not make
   3     any further comment than that, because --
   4   Q. So in 1993, when you were having these discussions with
   5     Helen Stratton, you would have known, for example, that
   6     Mr Braun at Birmingham had a particularly good
   7     reputation?
   8   A. That is right, but prior to that, prior to his coming,
   9     they were in trouble.
  10   Q. And Helen Stratton's concerns: did they suggest to you
  11     that Bristol was in the kind of trouble that Birmingham
  12     had previously been in?
  13   A. No.
  14   Q. Your reaction to Helen Stratton bringing you the
  15     concerns was to arrange for Freda Gardner to see and
  16     help Helen Stratton?
  17   A. Yes, because I felt she needed professional help within
  18     the structure of the hospital.
  19   Q. And that was obviously of assistance, you hoped, to her?
  20   A. Yes.
  21   Q. But what about the concerns themselves? Why did you
  22     think Helen Stratton had come to you, amongst others,
  23     with these concerns?
  24   A. But she would come to me quite regularly with her
  25     concerns, so any concern that she had, she would bring
   1     to me and we just would talk it over. But she says at
   2     the beginning, it was a clinical issue and not a Heart
   3     Circle issue.
   4   Q. But she was under particular pressure at this time?
   5   A. Yes, but I tried to help her overcome that.
   6   Q. We discussed earlier that your perception was that at
   7     that time, there was a larger number of deaths than
   8     there was sometimes otherwise, and that a new procedure
   9     had been implemented or instituted at the hospital at
  10     around that time.
  11        Did it not occur to you that Helen Stratton might
  12     be looking for some support in taking her concerns
  13     forward?
  14   A. That is why I introduced Freda Gardner into the
  15     picture. There was her support. There was somebody of
  16     standing in the hospital. She was then, I think,
  17     a research fellow in the hospital, and she was the sort
  18     of person to whom she could turn.
  19   Q. That might help Helen Stratton to cope?
  20   A. But it would also help her to see which direction to
  21     take her problems to.
  22   Q. One might see that might help Helen Stratton to cope
  23     with the number of deaths, but what about doing
  24     something to try and reduce the number of deaths?
  25   A. I am sure that I saw Freda Gardner's role -- I would
   1     take that no further.
   2   Q. The Heart Circle was anxious, always had been anxious,
   3     not to involve itself in clinical decisions or clinical
   4     issues?
   5   A. Yes.
   6   Q. So to the extent that Helen Stratton was bringing you
   7     concerns which, as you saw it, involved clinical issues,
   8     looked at more widely than her own problems and coping,
   9     would you have advised Helen Stratton as to what in your
  10     opinion would be the appropriate place to take those
  11     concerns?
  12   A. I think I remember she was sharing them with other
  13     people in the hospital anyway.
  14   Q. Did you know that she was of a similar view to
  15     Dr Bolsin?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. Did she tell you that?
  18   A. Yes.
  19   Q. What did she tell you about Dr Bolsin?
  20   A. I cannot recall: I just knew they were friends and they
  21     talked.
  22   Q. Did it go more widely than Dr Bolsin and Helen Stratton?
  23   A. I do not know.
  24   Q. What would you have expected the appropriate route to be
  25     for these concerns to be addressed in the cardiac unit
   1     in 1993?
   2   A. Through the Clinical Directorate, I suppose.
   3   Q. Helen Stratton being under that particular pressure in
   4     1993, and Freda Gardner assisting her, when she left,
   5     then, a year later and was not replaced, by that time
   6     was it your perception that this particular number of
   7     deaths that you had perceived had ended? Had that trend
   8     come to an end?
   9   A. I cannot recall.
  10   Q. Would you just bear with me for just a moment,
  11     Mrs Pratten? (Pause). Just a couple of points in
  12     conclusion. First of all, can I take you to
  13      UBHT 213/15, please? Can we scan down about a third of
  14     the page, please. This is concerned with the annual
  15     general meeting of the Heart Circle which was to be held
  16     on 5th June 1991 at the Institute of Child Health.
  17        Do you see the first new paragraph we can see on
  18     the screen:
  19        "Following the formal business, Helen Stratton has
  20     very kindly agreed to talk about her work on the cardiac
  21     surgery unit and the research she is undertaking. This
  22     should be an extremely interesting evening."
  23        What was the research?
  24   A. She never got that off the ground.
  25   Q. So the agenda being sent out for the meeting in fact, by
   1     the time the meeting came around, there was nothing to
   2     report on?
   3   A. Probably. That was in her first year, was it not, 1991?
   4   Q. What was she intending to research?
   5   A. I think, again, I cannot recall. There was something
   6     written in that, that she would be looking at the needs
   7     of families, that I think came out of the later
   8     research. I have not spoken to her about it for so many
   9     years that I cannot recall, but I remember it was one of
  10     the -- her work was demanding in other ways and that
  11     never got off the ground.
  12   Q. Is it fair to say that Helen Stratton struck you
  13     initially as being somebody who had enthusiasm for the
  14     role she had been given and was excited about the
  15     possibilities of it?
  16   A. Yes.
  17   Q. Was it your impression that her enthusiasm waned under
  18     the stress of the job?
  19   A. Yes. Well, I think the pressure of work and -- yes,
  20     I think so.
  21   Q. By the time that Helen Stratton had come to you in 1993,
  22     would you say that it was obvious from her demeanour and
  23     what she was saying that she was under great stress?
  24   A. Yes.
  25   Q. So it would have been obvious to those with whom she
   1     worked closely?
   2   A. It should have been.
   3   Q. I think I may have asked you this earlier: did you ever
   4     go to Mr Wisheart, for example, and say "Helen Stratton
   5     is under severe pressure, she needs help"?
   6   A. No, I do not think I did.
   7   Q. Did you ever mention to any of the clinicians or any of
   8     the managers that she had brought you these particular
   9     concerns in 1993 and that she was really, to put it
  10     colloquially, at her wits' end?
  11   A. I cannot recall.
  12   Q. What you did was to put her in touch with Freda Gardner?
  13   A. That is right. I thought I had done something positive
  14     to help her, which I had.
  15   Q. So you saw yourself presented with a woman who needed
  16     help and took what you thought was appropriate action to
  17     ensure she got the help she needed?
  18   A. That is how I saw it.
  19   Q. I have asked you a number of questions. There may be
  20     some matters I have not, as far as you are concerned,
  21     dealt with. Is there anything else arising out of my
  22     questions or in general that you would like to say to
  23     the Inquiry at this stage?
  24   A. I do not think so. You will realise we are a very small
  25     organisation that always try to do our best for the
   1     children and their families coming to Bristol and none
   2     of us was professional; we had not even a professional
   3     Secretary. We all gave our time in our own way and did
   4     the best we could in our own time, and there were a lot
   5     of demands on us, as you can see have come out from this
   6     examination. I was not qualified in any way, and tried
   7     to find somebody who was to answer any problems that
   8     there were.
   9   MR MACLEAN: Mrs Pratten, it may be that Mr Allingham, your
  10     solicitor, may have some re-examination, but just before
  11     we discover whether he has, it may be that there are
  12     some questions from the Panel. Mrs Pratten, for the
  13     moment, can I thank you very much for the evidence you
  14     have given to me?
  15   THE WITNESS: Thank you.
  16   THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Maclean. Yes, there are some
  17     questions. Mrs Maclean?
  18            Examined by THE PANEL:
  19   MRS MACLEAN: Going back to your conversations with
  20     Helen Stratton when she was under stress and strain and
  21     raising her concerns about increased mortality, did she
  22     mention the switch programme to you in that context?
  23   A. She may have done. I mean, she mentioned the babies,
  24     particularly I can remember. I cannot recall. I mean,
  25     it is quite a while ago now, and I tried to always help
   1     her to take her professional issues into the hospital.
   2   THE CHAIRMAN: Professor Jarman?
   3   PROFESSOR JARMAN: Just one question: In paragraph 41 of
   4     your witness statement on page 11, you say:
   5        "I am certain that children's paediatric surgery
   6     at the Bristol Royal Infirmary was never properly
   7     resourced and funds eventually only became available
   8     when the crisis arose."
   9   A. Yes.
  10   Q. You have a lot of experience of heart surgery, your
  11     daughter survived and you have been around the BRI for
  12     a long time. What was it that made you so certain about
  13     that?
  14   A. Well, over the years we talked about paediatric surgery
  15     being sent up to the Children's Hospital, and it was
  16     always a matter of resources that it never happened.
  17     I can remember when Martin Elliott from Great Ormond
  18     Street was interviewed for the post of Chair of
  19     Paediatric Cardiac Surgery, and I can remember him being
  20     very interested in the post, but there was not going to
  21     be an integration of services. To me, you cannot have
  22     a post of paediatric cardiac surgery in the BRI and in
  23     the Children's Hospital. There had to be an
  24     integration.
  25        Over the years, as I say, a number of times
   1     Dr Jordan, I know, did a very in-depth piece of work on
   2     trying to bring it all up together. I can appreciate in
   3     the early days you needed a heart unit where the nurses
   4     were specialised in heart surgery, but it had been
   5     looked at in depth but it never happened until this
   6     moment when the money suddenly became available.
   7        There are aspects, the funding brought about with
   8     it a new intensive care, and other amenities at the
   9     Children's Hospital, but there were no resources even
  10     then to provide a cardiac unit, a cardiac ward for the
  11     children and their families. I tried to get that
  12     established in the Children's Hospital, because I found
  13     it so good in the BRI, where the families were together
  14     so that they could support one another. When it moved
  15     up there, the children would go into a general surgical
  16     ward.
  17        So the resources all along have been a problem,
  18     I am sure.
  19   Q. But just to take your observations, you probably were in
  20     and out at least once a week, I should think?
  21   A. Yes.
  22   Q. Were there any general observations of anything to do
  23     with the set-up or anything like that?
  24   A. Well, yes. If you read my statement and what the Heart
  25     Circle provided over the years, I think I worked out
   1     that nearly œ1m was put into that unit by our
   2     observations and trying to put things right. I mean,
   3     I can remember when they were operating on younger
   4     children, babies, and we were asked if we could help
   5     provide a babies' bathroom, something as basic as that,
   6     a play room, pots, even, and beds for parents to sleep
   7     in by the cot.
   8   Q. And Moses baskets?
   9   A. Moses baskets, a quiet room. The quiet room was not
  10     a particularly quiet room, but it was somewhere where we
  11     made it as nice as we possibly could into an area where
  12     you could go quietly. That was something that we
  13     identified, but we had no funds. I think one of the
  14     most important things we did was the video we did, which
  15     was enabled to be sent out to families before the child
  16     was admitted so they could show the neighbours and
  17     grandparents and everybody else the people they were
  18     going to meet when they came to this strange hospital.
  19        No, I think we funded so much that should have
  20     been part of the Trust, that if we had not funded, might
  21     not have happened. That is what I tried to show in my
  22     statement.
  23   PROFESSOR JARMAN: Yes, thank you very much.
  24   THE CHAIRMAN: I have one question, which may follow on from
  25     what you have just helpfully told Professor Jarman. You
   1     say that œ1m of money, to use your words, to "put things
   2     right". That implies that they were not right. You may
   3     want to consider those words you used?
   4   A. By "right", to put things as friendly as possible for
   5     the families. There would have been a service, there
   6     would have been a room, there would have been an area in
   7     intensive care. But by "putting things right", I hope
   8     I am saying, making things more comfortable, more for
   9     the children, better facilities for them.
  10        We put at least one computer in a play room for
  11     the children. That was wonderful because it took their
  12     minds off why they were there. They would play on that
  13     a tremendous amount. The play leaders were tremendously
  14     helpful in preparing the children for surgery. I do not
  15     think they would have been so well prepared if the play
  16     leaders had not had the time and the dolls and the
  17     needles to show them what was going to happen through
  18     play.
  19   Q. Drawing on your very considerable experience, when you
  20     saw that paediatric surgery, to quote your words, was
  21     "never properly resourced", did it ever occur to you to
  22     think, "Perhaps they should not be doing this surgery
  23     here, it should be done elsewhere"?
  24   A. No, it never did. It never did. Because, as I say,
  25     I came from the pioneering days when there was no
   1     resource. But literally, in my daughter's time, she had
   2     a cubicle in the children's orthopaedic ward. It was
   3     chaos. Intensive care was a two-bedded side ward, and
   4     willy-nilly, it was needed the next week and it was
   5     jolly lucky if you were able to postpone next week's
   6     surgery if your child was not well enough to get out of
   7     it. I had seen things progress, so, you could say,
   8     I went along with the times. That is what I am trying
   9     to say. A lot of the remarks I make are in retrospect
  10     anyway. You look back and say "it could have been so
  11     much better".
  12   Q. Can I use an analogy and press you a little bit. The
  13     analogy would be that you can remember Dunkirk and
  14     things have come along since then. My question is, in
  15     the mid-1980s and early 1990s, was there any reason
  16     still to contemplate a Dunkirk type situation when there
  17     were lots of other places where that did not prevail?
  18   A. I did not see other places. I only knew Bristol and
  19     I could see that the cardiac unit was opened in 1972,
  20     then it was expanded again after that. I went along and
  21     did my best for it, on behalf of the Heart Circle and
  22     our committee, we did our best for it. As I say, we
  23     were all giving our time, we were not there on
  24     a full-time basis.
  25   THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Mr Allingham?
   1   MR ALLINGHAM: I have no questions, thank you.
   2   THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Mr Allingham.
   3     Mrs Pratten, thank you for helping us this morning. You
   4     have helped enormously and we are very grateful to you.
   5     If there are other matters you recall and if there are
   6     other matters you later do recall or wish to tell us, we
   7     will be here for a while and we will be grateful to hear
   8     from you on any matter, but for today, thank you very
   9     much indeed.
  10   MRS PRATTEN: Thank you.
  11            (The witness withdrew)
  12   MISS GREY: Sir, our next witness this morning is
  13     Mrs Helen Vegoda, who is currently the counsellor in
  14     child and family support at the Bristol Children's
  15     Hospital.
  16        She is represented today by her counsel, Mr Mark
  17     Whitcombe.
  18        If Mrs Vegoda would like to come forward, please?
  19        Mrs Vegoda, we have been taking evidence on oath
  20     or affirmation in the Inquiry, so could I invite you,
  21     please, to stand to do that?
  22            MRS HELEN VEGODA (SWORN):
  23             Examined by MISS GREY:
  24   Q. Thank you very much. If we could have on the screen,
  25     please, WIT 192/1, this is the first page of a statement
   1     which you have given to the Inquiry; is that right?
   2   A. Yes.
   3   Q. If we turn to page 10, that is the last page, there at
   4     the bottom, as there has been on every page, is your
   5     signature, verifying that the contents of this statement
   6     are true to the best of your knowledge and belief. That
   7     is right, is it?
   8   A. Yes.
   9   Q. Mrs Vegoda, you at the moment are, as I said in the
  10     introduction, the counsellor in child and family support
  11     at the Children's Hospital in Bristol; is that right?
  12   A. Yes, it is.
  13   Q. But in 1988, you took up a newly created post of
  14     counsellor in paediatric cardiology?
  15   A. Yes.
  16   Q. You held that post until when?
  17   A. 1996. It was September.
  18   Q. You may need to speak up just a little bit, I think, for
  19     the sake of the stenographer and also our audience.
  20        Can you just help us by defining what you
  21     understood that role to encompass when you first took
  22     it?
  23   A. I understood it was quite a complex role, because it
  24     involved the emotional and psychological support and
  25     counselling to families. It involved giving
   1     information -- I hasten to add, not medical information
   2     but other supportive information. It involved being
   3     there as a very general support at times of stress. It
   4     involved what I would have called "orientation", helping
   5     parents to know what facilities were around in the
   6     Children's Hospital in Bristol. It had a liaison
   7     element to it in terms of the community, and there were
   8     certainly other aspects, but I think at that time those
   9     were probably, possibly, the main ones.
  10   Q. We will come back to those, if we may, in further
  11     detail, but at paragraph 2 of your statement, back on
  12     page 1, you set out there the details of your previous
  13     experience and also qualifications to take up this post
  14     in the first place.
  15        You mention that you undertook child psychotherapy
  16     training. Can you tell us what qualification or formal
  17     status, if any, that work led to?
  18   A. This was a training that I undertook at the Tavistock
  19     Clinic in London. My intention had been to qualify as
  20     a child psychotherapist and the course itself is split
  21     into two. There is, I think it was two or three years
  22     pre-clinical, and then I had to go for selection on to
  23     the clinical part of the course, for which I was
  24     selected. There were only very few people selected and
  25     I was selected. I undertook the clinical part of the
   1     training, which meant a personal analysis, for, I think
   2     it was a further two years, at which stage I decided of
   3     my own volition that I did not want to continue with
   4     this course. I felt this was not right for me and there
   5     were other considerations about how long it was going to
   6     take.
   7        So I stopped that course. So I have not actually
   8     got a qualification in child psychotherapy, but
   9     a considerable amount of training during that.
  10   Q. You mention training between 1981 and 1986. Is it
  11     right, then, that you were engaged on that training
  12     throughout a five-year period?
  13   A. Yes, but it was not a full-time training. I am sorry,
  14     I should have said that.
  15   Q. You do say that in your statement. You say at the
  16     time you were also employed as a trainee child
  17     psychotherapist?
  18   A. For two years, but prior to that appointment, I was
  19     doing this course part-time. I was also working in the
  20     Child and Family Psychiatric Unit.
  21   Q. You then go on to say that you spent two years working
  22     with Mind, the national charity for mental health?
  23   A. Yes.
  24   Q. What was your role there?
  25   A. I was a regional administrator for the whole of the
   1     South West, and that involved part answering the phone
   2     to people who had particular questions about mental
   3     health and worries about mental health, giving out
   4     information, and also working in the office, helping as
   5     administrator to the director, and also serving the
   6     regions in terms of meetings and producing the
   7     newsletter.
   8   Q. It was not then a hands-on job in terms of working
   9     directly with families and children?
  10   A. Not that particular job, no.
  11   Q. How much experience had you had in that before you took
  12     up your post at the Children's Hospital?
  13   A. I did that job for two years. Prior to that, I had
  14     worked for in total about 11 years in a Child and Family
  15     Psychiatric Unit, which was part of a hospital in the
  16     West Midlands and that was very much hands-on work with
  17     families.
  18   Q. Was that at the point when you had obtained your social
  19     worker qualification and were working in that capacity
  20     in the Child and Family Psychiatric Unit mentioned in
  21     the statement?
  22   A. No. What had happened was, I had been working as
  23     a teacher. I had then moved and was interested to get
  24     into other fields; and had an interview and was invited
  25     to join the Child and Family Psychiatric Unit, in fact
   1     as a therapist and as a, I would say, a more psychiatric
   2     social worker, but the only way in which I could
   3     actually be paid was for me to get a qualification in
   4     social work. I am sorry, it sounds rather complicated.
   5     I was actually seconded to a social work course, came
   6     back to this unit and then worked there for another 9
   7     years.
   8   Q. Never mind the details of the qualifications or the
   9     formal title. What was your role across those 9 years
  10     in that unit?
  11   A. I worked very closely with both adults and children, as
  12     I would -- the expression that was used was
  13     a "therapist". We were asked to be called therapists,
  14     and a lot of my role was -- the children were actually
  15     referred, because they had some sort of psychiatric or
  16     psychological problems, and it was a whole range of
  17     problems. Then I worked as one of a team of people
  18     doing an assessment of what the problems were and the
  19     family background, and then working with either the
  20     parents or the children, often in very long-term
  21     commitments, several times a week over a number of
  22     years. That was the main part of the work.
  23   Q. If I look at the bottom line of this page of your
  24     statement, you say there that you had various training
  25     and qualifications, including qualifications in
   1     bereavement counselling following a course with CRUSE.
   2        Can you be more specific about the details of the
   3     counselling qualifications you obtained?
   4   A. Can I just mention CRUSE first of all?
   5   THE CHAIRMAN: Can we go over the page, please?
   6   MISS GREY: I am sorry, page 2, please.
   7   A. CRUSE in Birmingham organised a bereavement course which
   8     I think was over about 6 months; I am sorry, I cannot
   9     remember exactly how long. That was not a full-time
  10     course. I was particularly interested in the whole area
  11     of bereavement counselling, so I took that course, but
  12     I also did a training and subsequently became a member
  13     of the West Midlands Institute of Psychotherapy. I am
  14     not sure whether that still exists. That was actually
  15     part of Birmingham University. They did a training
  16     course which was over two years, I think it was. I did
  17     a qualification with them.
  18   Q. When was that? Prior to your appointment at the
  19     Children's Hospital; is that right?
  20   A. Oh, yes, quite some years ago.
  21   Q. If we look at WIT 192/113, paragraph 6, these are your
  22     objectives for the coming year in I think 1992. If we
  23     scroll down a little bit we see the date of October
  24     1992.
  25        There is a mention there of a course, paragraph 6,
   1     "Developing skills and working with bereaved
   2     families". It mentions that you have managed to find
   3     funding for a course on this matter at the end of the
   4     year. Which course was that?
   5   A. I am a little perplexed by that. In fact, I think it
   6     refers to a conference that I went to. I may be wrong
   7     on this, but there was an international conference in
   8     Edinburgh over about five days, a very intensive
   9     conference, and I believe that is what it was referring
  10     to, because I do not remember doing a subsequent course
  11     in bereavement counselling.
  12   Q. But in fact the bereavement counselling course with
  13     CRUSE that you mention in your statement preceded your
  14     appointment to the Royal Infirmary?
  15   A. Yes. Could I just add, within my job in the Child and
  16     Family Psychiatric Unit, I also worked with parents or
  17     children who may have been bereaved, so I did have some
  18     experience in that.
  19   Q. As a person with counselling or supportive skills, are
  20     you a member of any professional body that is relevant
  21     to that sphere, such as, for instance, the British
  22     Association of Counsellors?
  23   A. No, I am not a member of that. I am a member, and
  24     I have been for many years, of the Bristol Association
  25     of Psychotherapy.
   1   Q. One person who has given us evidence to the Inquiry, the
   2     mother of Dafydd Thomas, said to us that one of your
   3     comments to her during the time she saw you, was that it
   4     was not your role to provide medical counselling.
   5        Can you just tell us what you saw as the
   6     boundaries of your proper role in work with families?
   7   A. In relation to medical counselling?
   8   Q. In relation to what you understood by support or
   9     counselling where one stopped, the other started, and
  10     what your role was in relation to both of these.
  11   A. I do not think it is terribly easy to be very rigid
  12     about this, because I think there is a continuum from
  13     counselling through to support, and it does not stop at
  14     a particular point.
  15        What I was very careful not to do was to, what
  16     I would say, counsel in terms of medical information
  17     because I did not have that background. The counselling
  18     that I gave, the emotional support I would give, was,
  19     for example, there were certain particularly key points
  20     for parents that were emotionally extremely stressful
  21     and, for example, the diagnosis or a child going for
  22     a catheterisation or surgery, or at other points like
  23     that, and quite a bit of my counselling and support
  24     would be to try and be around at those key points and to
  25     give parents space to allow them, or may be facilitate
   1     their emotional response at those times, to be there to
   2     listen to them.
   3        But I would see that as different from any input
   4     in terms of the actual medical content.
   5   Q. Because you came to this post without any formal nursing
   6     background?
   7   A. I had no nursing background at all.
   8   Q. And no medical qualifications?
   9   A. No.
  10   Q. Do you think that that imposed any limitations on your
  11     role?
  12   A. That is not an easy one to answer. I was very clear,
  13     when I came into the post, that I would not be expected
  14     to understand the details of congenital heart disease
  15     and therefore there was no way in which I could guide
  16     and explain to parents, and therefore I focused in very
  17     much and tried to identify the areas where I had the
  18     background and could help. But it is true to say that
  19     there would have been gaps for parents from myself in
  20     terms of helping them to understand the medical side.
  21        In order to do that, what I would do, if I met
  22     parents who clearly were confused or did not understand
  23     something, I would try and liaise with, say, nursing
  24     staff or medical staff, so that they could explain
  25     that.
   1   Q. We will come back to this in a little more detail, but
   2     how were you able to judge whether parents had properly
   3     understood the details of their child's condition, or
   4     the options that were being offered to them?
   5   A. Well, it is a combination of what I heard myself, and as
   6     time went on, I became more familiar with some of the
   7     language that was used, and also, very much checking out
   8     with parents. I mean, if, for example, I was ever there
   9     when there was a diagnosis or surgery was explained or
  10     a procedure was explained, I did always ask the parents,
  11     or I hope I always asked the parents, you know, "Did you
  12     understand what was being said? Is there anything you
  13     are confused about or you want to go back over, or you
  14     want repeated?"
  15        To an extent, because I did not have the
  16     background of everything myself, I suppose there might
  17     have been instances where the parents said they did
  18     understand and possibly they did not. But I think with
  19     time, possibly I was getting more information as well.
  20   Q. Did you ever ask them questions about the diagnosis or
  21     the treatment that were designed to elicit whether or
  22     not they had understood or test their understanding?
  23   A. I cannot recall that I did. I hope I would not have
  24     done, because I do not think it would have been
  25     appropriate within my role.
   1   Q. If we go back to your statement at page 2, paragraph 5,
   2     you talk at the bottom of that page of meeting families,
   3     perhaps on admission, but generally a little later,
   4     within one or two days, and then you go on to say that
   5     you provided emotional and other support -- if we can
   6     turn over, please -- at key times during the child's
   7     admission.
   8        You also talk about giving practical support to
   9     parents, sometimes, for instance, on matters such as
  10     obtaining leave of absence.
  11        So throughout your statement, you talk both about
  12     emotional support and practical support, but you do say
  13     little about counselling.
  14        Can I just press you a little further as to what
  15     you mean or what you would understand by counselling,
  16     and the point at which emotional support stops,
  17     counselling starts and what your attitude was to that
  18     division?
  19   A. If I could think about support first, for example,
  20     I tried very hard to be there for families when a child
  21     went for catheterisation, because I think as
  22     I mentioned, that was a very stressful time. I was with
  23     the parents when the child went into the catheter lab.
  24     When the child had actually gone in, if the parents
  25     wanted me to be around, I would come out with them,
   1     often take them back to my room and they were often
   2     upset. At that point I saw that as support, because
   3     I felt they just needed somebody with them. They often
   4     were in tears, they needed someone to make them a cup of
   5     tea, and I think that was pure support.
   6        But counselling might come in, for example, if
   7     I met a family where the child had been newly diagnosed
   8     and the parents, for example, were saying things like,
   9     you know, "It is my fault" and "I feel very guilty", or
  10     they were very angry about the child having
  11     a condition. Then I would try and use my counselling
  12     skills, because I would try and help them to see that
  13     that was not so, you know, that although it was very
  14     normal, very rational that they had these thoughts and
  15     a lot of parents did, they had no need to. I felt the
  16     counselling was helping them to come to terms and accept
  17     what was normal, and also to deal with it.
  18   Q. Because if we look at paragraph 9 of your statement, you
  19     use another expression. Paragraph 9 is at page 4,
  20     please. It is down at line R. You say:
  21        "I would usually have met the families first at
  22     the Bristol Children's Hospital where I would have
  23     provided primary counselling."
  24        Can you just explain what you meant in that part
  25     of your statement?
   1   A. I think probably what I intended to say there was that,
   2     for example, if I met them at the diagnostic stage, or,
   3     again, at the first time they actually came into
   4     hospital, my role would have been a mixture. There
   5     would have been a counselling aspect to it, there would
   6     have been support.
   7        So I think I was using it rather as a generic term
   8     in that statement.
   9   Q. Not as a technical term on the form of counselling?
  10   A. No, I am sorry, I think that is slightly misleading.
  11     I meant it to encompass the generic idea.
  12   THE CHAIRMAN: Miss Grey, I wonder whether this is a good
  13     point, you will tell me if it is not, where we might
  14     have a break for, say, half an hour, and reconvene
  15     at 1?
  16   MISS GREY: Yes, I am entirely happy with that, if
  17     Mrs Vegoda will put up with the interruption.
  18   MRS VEGODA: I am in your hands.
  19   MISS GREY: Thank you. Shall we reconvene at 1 o'clock,
  20     then?
  21   THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.
  22   (12.32 pm)
  23               (A short break)
  24   (1.05 pm)
  25   MISS GREY: Mrs Vegoda, before our brief lunch break we were
   1     talking about the distinction between support and
   2     counselling and where you move from one to the other.
   3     Perhaps still looking at that, we could look briefly at
   4     your new role, the one you took up in 1996, which you
   5     mention at page 5 of your statement, paragraph 11.
   6        You say there that you took on a new role of
   7     counsellor in child and family support. That gave you
   8     a title "counsellor" for the first time; is that right?
   9   A. No, I was a counsellor in paediatric cardiology. That
  10     was my on-the-job description, that was my official
  11     title.
  12   Q. So in this case, then, in this new role, you moved out
  13     of the specific area of cardiac services more broadly to
  14     child and family support across the hospital?
  15   A. Yes.
  16   Q. How do families access your help now?
  17   A. Now?
  18   Q. Yes.
  19   A. Leaflets are sent out to parents from admissions, if
  20     they have any general queries or need general support,
  21     so I do get some phone calls before parents actually
  22     come into the hospital. I also get admissions lists
  23     every week and I look down and just see if there are any
  24     particular families that I think might possibly need my
  25     help.
   1   Q. How can you judge it from an admissions list?
   2   A. First of all, there are some areas I do not cover, such
   3     as oncology and cardiac these days; and again, I can see
   4     under which consultant the child is coming to the
   5     hospital --
   6   Q. Can I ask you why you do not cover oncology and cardiac
   7     services now?
   8   A. Because they have their own support systems, and the
   9     intention of this post was to offer some support and
  10     counselling and help to families where there is nobody.
  11   Q. So you can exclude some families as covered by another
  12     service within the hospital?
  13   A. That is right, yes. But to a large extent, I do what
  14     I call my own ward round. I actually go around quite
  15     a number of the wards in the hospital every day -- this
  16     is from nursing staff -- and just check whether there
  17     are any families that would like my help or any
  18     particular concerns, and I do also get referred families
  19     from different sources.
  20   Q. So essentially you rely, is this right, on the nursing
  21     staff to either point out to you families that may be in
  22     need of some attention or assistance from you, or might
  23     like an initial contact, or to refer to you families who
  24     might already have expressed such a desire?
  25   A. That is only one source. It is quite a valuable source,
   1     because nursing staff know their families very well, but
   2     obviously I do get referrals from consultants, from
   3     chaplains, from social workers, you know, from other
   4     sources.
   5   Q. I think what I was driving at is that the service that
   6     you provide now appears to have changed to one being
   7     based on referral pattern, rather than by you directly
   8     contacting families in the first instance?
   9   A. Yes. I think the term "referral" makes it sound rather
  10     formal. To the extent that I cover a very wide area and
  11     therefore obviously I cannot know which families might
  12     need help, and I cannot do anything routinely, I refer
  13     to the nursing staff, but it is very often a matter of
  14     either somebody going through the Cardex, or just an
  15     informal chat. So referral in that sense.
  16   Q. How do the nursing staff, or the consultants, perhaps,
  17     know or decide which families they might think you
  18     should come and visit, or have some contact with?
  19   A. You are talking about now?
  20   Q. Yes.
  21   A. It depends on the needs of the family. I can be brought
  22     in where there is a need for emotional and social
  23     counselling and support: for example, if there is
  24     a child with quite a severe condition or the prognosis
  25     is not very good, or it might be a family that, say,
   1     a single parent is on their own in Bristol for the first
   2     time, and who is very anxious. So I can be brought in
   3     for lots of different reasons.
   4   Q. Has any guidance been offered to staff or training given
   5     in which families might be at most need of your
   6     assistance?
   7   A. This post was set up very carefully with the managers
   8     myself, and bringing in the nursing staff, so I went
   9     with my manager to speak to various nursing sisters and
  10     consultants to discuss with them the sort of role that
  11     I would be fulfilling, the sort of families that might
  12     benefit from my help, and also, I do a lot of continual
  13     work in making sure that personnel in the hospital know
  14     that I am around. So I am quite proactive.
  15   Q. I was wondering whether or not staff were trained or
  16     assisted to be able to make any sort of risk assessment,
  17     whether formal or informal, of the families that were
  18     most at need of assistance?
  19   A. I am not sure if I can really answer that. I do not
  20     know whether they would have actual training. My
  21     experience is that a lot of nurses are very sensitive
  22     and very aware of the needs of parents and they know
  23     their families very often. Therefore, they would know
  24     the sort of family to refer to me. But of course it
  25     comes the other way. Families do sometimes ask to see
   1     somebody, or come and knock on my door. So it is
   2     a two-way process.
   3   Q. But if there is limited time to cover and provide
   4     support to families, and realistically that is likely to
   5     be the case; is that right?
   6   A. Yes.
   7   Q. Then how do you go about ensuring that there is equality
   8     of access or equity of access between families so that
   9     those that have the same level of need can be provided
  10     with the same level of service?
  11   A. That is not an easy question.
  12        It does vary. There are certain weeks when there
  13     are a lot of families under my care, or who are referred
  14     to me as new families, and then I just have to
  15     prioritise. It would partly depend on the families
  16     themselves. Not all families want me, even though, on
  17     paper, it looks as if they need counselling and
  18     support. So it would depend partly on the response
  19     I get and how much the families feel they need me.
  20        It might depend whether there are families in for
  21     a long time. Some of our families unfortunately are in
  22     for weeks or months, so I would try hard to see those
  23     families at least every day, just popping in, but
  24     prioritisation, I suppose, is something I have developed
  25     over the years.
   1   Q. If we go back, then, to your post as it was conceived in
   2     1988, and when you were first appointed: first of all,
   3     who appointed you to the post? Perhaps I should say, if
   4     it is less difficult, first, who was present at your
   5     interview for the post?
   6   A. The formal interview itself, I cannot remember
   7     everybody, but certainly the sadly now late Professor
   8     David Baum was there. I believe Mr Wisheart was there.
   9     I think Dr Joffe was. Jean Pratten certainly was, and
  10     I think there was somebody else from the Heart Circle.
  11     I think Hugh -- I have forgotten his surname, he is
  12     a psychiatrist, was there, who is still in the hospital,
  13     I am sorry, I cannot recall his surname. I believe
  14     there was somebody there from social work. I mean,
  15     there were a lot of people on the Panel.
  16   Q. Did you consider your post to be one that had been
  17     created by the hospital, or rather its predecessor body,
  18     the District Health Authority, or by the Heart Circle?
  19   A. There seemed to be some sort of partnership. I am not
  20     sure it was either one or the other. May I just say how
  21     the post was created as far as I was aware?
  22   Q. Please do.
  23   A. I in fact knew Dr Joffe and he telephoned me one day and
  24     discussed the idea that he wanted to help create a post
  25     that would support the needs of parents, of families.
   1     I believe he asked whether I would come in with
   2     a meeting with Jean Pratten. I think Professor David
   3     Baum as well. This was a fairly informal meeting, just
   4     to look at the idea of setting up such a post.
   5        I did that. I cannot remember details of it,
   6     other than I put in some ideas from my work with
   7     families. Then there was the formal application and the
   8     formal interview. I always understood that the post
   9     was, I believe, part funded by the Heart Circle for,
  10     I think, two years, but was also part funded by the
  11     Health Authority.
  12   Q. If the initial genesis of the post, or your involvement
  13     with it was arising out of personal contact from
  14     Dr Joffe, and there was an initial discussion of the
  15     post at that stage, was that followed by a formal
  16     advertisement for the job?
  17   A. I ought to clarify that. My understanding was that
  18     Dr Joffe had already discussed the idea of having some
  19     sort of support counselling role, which I believe he had
  20     already discussed with Jean Pratten, and possibly other
  21     people. I think he was really picking my brains at that
  22     stage. I do not even know whether he was aware that
  23     I might apply for it. I think he was actually picking
  24     my brains. Then the next thing I knew was that there
  25     was going to be a formal advert and an interview.
   1   Q. If we look at WIT 192/119, this is the service
   2     specification for the job and if we scroll down the
   3     page a little, we see there that the post is now funded
   4     but it was set up, as you recollected, partly funded by
   5     the South West Heart Circle.
   6        Then you have written out this description. You
   7     say that in all matters of clinical responsibility and
   8     accountability, you were supervised by Dr Joffe.
   9        What about in matters of non-clinical, managerial
  10     matters or organisational matters?
  11   A. My recollection was that when the post was first set up
  12     in 1988, I did not have a formal management structure
  13     from the Health Authority. That only came into place,
  14     I believe, in something like 1991 or 1992, when Julie --
  15     her name was Crowley, then Julie Vass -- came into post,
  16     and then I had a very formal management structure.
  17     Jean Pratten saw me very regularly for the first two
  18     years while I was part funded by the Heart Circle, but
  19     her role was supportive, informative, rather than
  20     supervisory.
  21   Q. Whom did you see yourself as accountable to, or
  22     responsible to?
  23   A. Certainly Dr Joffe and the Health Authority.
  24   Q. If we look at the date of this document, it appears at
  25     page 121. We see there 22nd November 1990. Can you
   1     recollect this document at all?
   2   A. I recollect the document. I cannot really remember
   3     exactly the circumstances in which I helped to write
   4     that. That would have been with a manager, certainly.
   5   Q. You are anticipating my question, whether or not you can
   6     remember the circumstances that led to producing this
   7     service specification.
   8   A. I cannot exactly. I can only imagine that it must have
   9     been linked somewhere to Helen Stratton's appointment
  10     and therefore changes in the service, because it would
  11     certainly be exactly the same time that she started.
  12   Q. Yes. If we look at the bottom of the second page, that
  13     is page 120, we can see there you are discussing the
  14     fact that there have been some changes in the role since
  15     the appointment of Helen Stratton; if we flick over the
  16     page, back to page 121, you spend less time on Ward 5
  17     than previously and the aim is therefore to up the
  18     contact with families at the BCH because you have got
  19     rather more time there than previously.
  20        What was your working relationship, then, with
  21     Dr Joffe, to whom you were clinically responsible?
  22   A. I had a very good working relationship. I have given
  23     a lot of thought to his role and the sort of supervision
  24     I got, and I think I was aware, possibly even at the
  25     time although not so much as now, that quite a bit of
   1     our supervision was probably to do with families and
   2     looking at the needs of families, perhaps specific
   3     families, but probably did not cover the area of coming
   4     into a new post and the needs of the post and the needs
   5     of the team, and probably it was rather narrow. With
   6     hindsight, perhaps it would have been helpful to have
   7     had it broader.
   8   Q. In what ways were you assisted by Dr Joffe?
   9   A. I mean, I felt he was very aware of his families.
  10     I think he was very aware of the emotional and the
  11     stress factors on them. That is what we talked about.
  12     We obviously talked about different children's
  13     conditions and who was coming in and what the needs of
  14     those families were, but we were looking really at the
  15     emotional content.
  16   Q. That implies that you were discussing with him the cases
  17     of particular families and the work you had been able to
  18     do. What about your own performance, as it were: could
  19     he supervise your function, your role as a counsellor,
  20     as a support aid?
  21   A. I do not really think that aspect of the role was
  22     discussed until Julie Vass came into post, I think it
  23     was around 1991, and I mean, I was certainly aware that
  24     I was trying to "find my feet" with the post. What
  25     I think I did was focus in on the needs of families,
   1     which I was beginning to understand and felt I was
   2     making headway with, but I think probably what I was not
   3     doing was looking at the whole wider area of how it
   4     fitted in with the cardiac team and things like that.
   5     That aspect probably was not looked at until I had
   6     professional managerial input.
   7   Q. Sticking still, though, to the counselling work rather
   8     than the interrelationship with the rest of the team,
   9     was there anyone who was capable of looking at your
  10     performance as a counsellor and discussing with you the
  11     areas in which your skills might need to be strengthened
  12     or developed, or discussing critically the sorts of
  13     initiatives you were taking and whether or not they
  14     could be developed in new ways or should be strengthened
  15     in the ways in which you were developing them?
  16   A. What I did, because I think I was aware that there were
  17     gaps, is I went to see Paul Burroughs, who was a child
  18     psychotherapist, because I did discuss with Dr Joffe
  19     right at the beginning supervision outside the role with
  20     him, and talking to Paul Burroughs was quite helpful in
  21     terms of how I felt I was dealing with things, but
  22     again, I did not feel it was quite appropriate for this
  23     post, because he was a very good child psychotherapist,
  24     but that was really not what the main thrust of the job
  25     was about. I did also see Madeleine Dunham who was or
   1     is the principal psychologist in the hospital, and she,
   2     again, was very helpful.
   3        So I think I was getting people to look at aspects
   4     of my work, but whether either of those two people were
   5     actually aware of how I was performing, other than what
   6     I said, I do not know.
   7   Q. When Julie Vass arrived in post, what difference did
   8     that make?
   9   A. My memory is that Julie, as obviously a professional
  10     manager, was very aware of the structures within the
  11     hospital and the way in which disciplines worked
  12     together, for example, and she was very good at getting
  13     me to look at, you know, the needs of my posts, the
  14     needs of families, how I might strengthen certain areas,
  15     what aspects of the job I wanted to develop, feedback
  16     from nursing staff, for example, about how the post was
  17     fitting in and how I was performing. So she had a much
  18     wider view of things and that was very helpful.
  19   Q. Did that meet the need or plug the gap you have
  20     identified, or was it only a partial solution?
  21   A. No, I think that things became a lot clearer once she
  22     was in post. I think that was very helpful.
  23   Q. What she did not have was any professional background in
  24     the area in which you were working?
  25   A. That is true. It is difficult for me to answer that, in
   1     a way. I think that what I would -- I mean, a lot of my
   2     evaluation, I think, came from how I felt families were
   3     receiving me and the sort of service I was giving.
   4     Although I know that is perhaps not unbiased, but
   5     I think I was trying to be very aware of that, and also
   6     I did talk to nursing staff quite a lot and other people
   7     in the hospital, so that I think I was trying to keep
   8     some awareness of how I was performing in the
   9     counselling role.
  10   Q. If we look at page 122, that is a job description for
  11     your role. It is dated, I think, 1991, if we look
  12     towards the bottom of the page, and then turn over,
  13     please, page 123. It is dated December 1991. So that
  14     postdates the creation of the UBHT. It may be that that
  15     job description was issued as part of the
  16     reorganisations that followed on the creation of the
  17     Trust; is that correct?
  18   A. I believe so. That is Julie Crowley, as her name was
  19     then, her signature is at the bottom. I know we did
  20     discuss a new job description in the light of that.
  21   Q. Did it have a predecessor, this job description?
  22   A. I am sorry, do you mean my original?
  23   Q. Did you have a formal written job description from the
  24     beginning?
  25   A. Yes.
   1   Q. And it was that job description that was amended in
   2     December 1991; is that right?
   3   A. I believe so, yes.
   4   Q. If we turn, please, to page 113, there we have a set of
   5     objectives for the coming year. If we scroll down -- we
   6     have seen this once already -- it is signed by you in
   7     October 1992. If we go back up, there is an earlier
   8     date at the top. No, I am sorry. It is dated October
   9     1992.
  10        Again, was the process of your looking at your
  11     job, the setting of objectives for the coming year, was
  12     that a regular occurrence?
  13   A. This was my original appraisal document. I think I have
  14     two of them. I cannot remember how many times I had
  15     a formal appraisal with Julie Vass/Julie Crowley. It
  16     looks as if I may have only had two, but I certainly
  17     remember regular contact, so I felt there was an ongoing
  18     appraisal, but this would certainly have been a very
  19     formal one, yes.
  20   Q. We have discussed the formal lines of accountability to
  21     Dr Joffe to Julie Vass or Crowley, and also of contact
  22     with other professionals if you went to see them.
  23        Were there any other forms of support that you had
  24     in a role that might at times have been a stressful one?
  25   A. It was a very stressful job, and I think I was aware
   1     right at the beginning that I was going to need help.
   2     As I have already mentioned, that was part of my reason
   3     for seeing Paul Burroughs and then Madeleine Dunham, but
   4     a number of years after that, and I cannot date it,
   5     a Support Group was set up in the hospital, in fact
   6     there were two support groups. One was convened by
   7     Charmian Mann, who was the Chaplain to the hospital.
   8     That was helpful but it was not terribly structured.
   9     About six years ago, a Support Group was set up by Ann
  10     Dent, who has done a lot of work in bereavement
  11     research, and that is ongoing. That has been
  12     invaluable.
  13   Q. Is that a Support Group for staff or a Support Group for
  14     bereaved families, or both?
  15   A. No, it was set up specifically for people like myself
  16     with isolated jobs and in fact, most people, but not
  17     everyone, is a member of the Trust. There is someone
  18     who is also working outside. But it was convened
  19     because Ann was very aware that there were quite
  20     a number of people who were all working in isolation
  21     with stressful jobs, and she sent some sort of notice
  22     around to see if anybody wanted to join such a group.
  23     It is specifically for staff and it is there as
  24     a support. In fact, we do not always focus on work
  25     issues. There are times when some of us may bring up
   1     other issues that we are finding difficult.
   2   Q. If it is composed of isolated staff members, what sort
   3     of people have come to find assistance? Not names, but
   4     job descriptions.
   5   A. Chaplains, specialist social workers, very senior
   6     nursing staff in the maternity unit, another support
   7     worker in another discipline. People doing -- Ann
   8     herself who is doing research into bereavement, somebody
   9     else doing some form of research. I think that more or
  10     less covers it.
  11   Q. If we turn to the witness statement of Mrs Pratten,
  12     please, WIT 269/3 and look at paragraph 10, please, she
  13     describes there the setting up of your post and she was
  14     concerned that the new post did not fit into any
  15     established structure and none was established for it,
  16     or for you.
  17        Do you think that that is an accurate comment from
  18     your perception of how the post was supported?
  19   A. I can understand what she is saying there. There were
  20     difficulties about the post because -- I remember some
  21     of the discussions that went on, that I did not fit into
  22     social work and I did not fit into nursing and I did not
  23     fit into psychology. There was some discussion pre my
  24     being appointed because I think I talked to Dr Joffe
  25     about it in general ideas, but also after I was
   1     appointed. From that point of view, it was isolated.
   2     There was no peer system that I slotted into. I know
   3     that there was a suggestion that I would fit into
   4     psychiatry or psychology or social work, but none of
   5     those, really, were quite right. Maybe that was the
   6     nature of the job. But certainly, there was not that
   7     peer support.
   8        There were other aspects to the post that were
   9     quite isolating. Because the nature of this, this was
  10     a new post and it was a one-off post, so I do not know
  11     whether that could have been different right at the
  12     beginning.
  13   Q. You are saying that, yes, it was isolated, but you
  14     cannot, even now looking back on it, think of what might
  15     have been the solution to that problem?
  16   A. Everything is with hindsight. I think it is very
  17     difficult to see at that time how it might have been
  18     different, but one of the things that I was aware of was
  19     that I do not know how much the post had been discussed
  20     with all members of the cardiac team in terms of, you
  21     know, both surgeons, consultants, nursing staff or
  22     anybody else.
  23        Had that been so, but possibly had there been more
  24     of a cardiac team structure that met very regularly,
  25     that looked at non-clinical issues, then possibly
   1     I might have slotted into the team as opposed to
   2     a professional background.
   3        I am not sure if that makes sense, what I have
   4     just said.
   5   Q. How did the cardiac unit function, then, if there was no
   6     cardiac team that met regularly to discuss non-clinical
   7     issues for you to slot into?
   8   A. It was not particularly structured. I talked to
   9     cardiologists about needs of parents, or I would seek
  10     them out if there were particular concerns, and I sat in
  11     outpatients so that was a chance to talk to them. But
  12     what there was not, you know, was this, that I would
  13     know every week, for example, that there would be
  14     a general meeting which was not only a clinical
  15     meeting. So I did have to seek out the time to talk to
  16     the medical staff particularly, rather than it being
  17     there.
  18   Q. So there were regular clinical meetings at which
  19     clinical matters were discussed, but not regular
  20     meetings discussing matters other than clinical
  21     priorities which would have been multidisciplinary?
  22   A. That is right.
  23   Q. What impression did you get about the level of
  24     discussion about your post or the degree of consensus
  25     about its function that had been established before you
   1     came into it?
   2   A. I do not know.
   3   Q. You said that if there had been more, which implied at
   4     least that, at least on occasion, you might have been
   5     aware of incidents which suggested that not everybody
   6     had either been aware of or had thought through what
   7     your role would be?
   8   A. I do not think there was so much incidents, but
   9     I remember that I did not have a formal opportunity to
  10     meet, say, Mr Dhasmana, or, I believe, Mr Wisheart,
  11     before I actually took up post. It was just by
  12     coincidence that I was invited to the Heart Circle party
  13     in December and I started in January, and I went and
  14     introduced myself to Mr Dhasmana. In fact I did meet
  15     Mr Wisheart because he was on the interviewing panel.
  16     It was Mr Dhasmana that I had not met. I was very
  17     pleased to have that opportunity, but I think I was
  18     aware at the time that somehow it would be nice to have
  19     met him, or I did not quite understand why I had not met
  20     him, perhaps before I took up post.
  21        So it was not so much incidents; I think there
  22     just was a sense that possibly not everyone had got
  23     together and discussed my role.
  24   Q. Do you think that if that was the case, it made any
  25     difference to your effectiveness in the role?
   1   A. My memory is that I had to be very proactive in seeing
   2     where I was needed. By that I mean the cardiologists
   3     and surgeons would not necessarily have brought me in at
   4     the diagnostic stage. I did, I think, raise this with
   5     Dr Joffe, because I said that I felt I needed to be
   6     brought in perhaps at an earlier stage. When
   7     I discussed that with Dr Jordan, they were very happy
   8     for me to do that and to be there, but it did not happen
   9     routinely, and somehow I felt I was always having to be
  10     proactive.
  11        Also, I remember talking to Dr Jordan one day
  12     about how I might have more time to see him to talk
  13     about families and we tried to make time during
  14     outpatients, for example. Things like that which I felt
  15     I had to work at.
  16   Q. If we go back to the statement and to the second
  17     sentence, the last sentence of paragraph 10, Mrs Pratten
  18     comments that in addition there was no clinical
  19     supervision provided for your post during the Heart
  20     Circle's involvement with it.
  21        If we assume that by "clinical" she means clinical
  22     in the sense of having another professional with the
  23     same skills as you, that would be accurate?
  24   A. There was no other counsellor, family support worker in
  25     the hospital, to my knowledge, no. But I would have
   1     described my role with Dr Joffe as having clinical
   2     supervision.
   3   Q. Because ...
   4   A. We discussed the needs of families. That is how
   5     I understood it.
   6   Q. If we go on, then, please, to the role of Helen Stratton
   7     and how your role changed, if at all, when she was
   8     appointed: firstly, had you been consulted about Helen
   9     Stratton's appointment, or about her post, the creation
  10     of her post?
  11   A. I was not consulted formerly. My memory is -- I have
  12     tried to think about this quite a lot, because I think
  13     it is very important. My memory was that I must have
  14     seen either a draft document to do with the post that
  15     was being set up, or a draft job description, because
  16     I remember that -- first of all, I was surprised this
  17     post was being set up, but also, counselling was
  18     mentioned in this, I think it was a draft document, and
  19     I asked to see Jean Pratten because I was concerned.
  20     I felt quite confused and I did not quite understand
  21     what was going on. I went to see Jean, she was very
  22     clear that this post was going to be based on Ward 5.
  23     The person appointed would have a nursing background,
  24     and therefore the two posts would complement one
  25     another, but we would be doing very different jobs, on
   1     different bases and with different professional
   2     backgrounds. I was very satisfied with that.
   3   Q. How much time did you spend in the Royal Infirmary, in
   4     Ward 5, before Helen Stratton's appointment?
   5   A. I spent a lot of time down there. I used to go down
   6     approximately twice and occasionally it would even be
   7     three times a day, so it was between one and three times
   8     a day. I tried to be there when children went to
   9     theatre for open-heart surgery in the morning and
  10     I tried to be there when they came back in the evening,
  11     and often that would be quite late. It is very likely
  12     that I could not cover every family, but I certainly
  13     gave a lot of input to Ward 5, whilst also being at the
  14     Children's Hospital.
  15   Q. So how much time do you think would have been freed up
  16     if you were to have a role no longer at the BRI but only
  17     at the BCH?
  18   A. That is not a very easy one to answer, because even if
  19     I had gone down there once or twice a day, I did not
  20     always spend the same amount of time down there. I used
  21     to go down in response to families' needs, so, for
  22     example, it was very unlikely, but if there were no
  23     families down there or very few families down there
  24     having open-heart surgery, I would not have gone down,
  25     but it would, I think, have been a considerable amount,
   1     probably a number of hours each day, I would imagine.
   2   Q. If Helen Stratton or somebody fulfilling that post was
   3     to take over your work, or to work at the Bristol Royal
   4     Infirmary instead of you, did you not see that as
   5     a diminution or a decrease in the importance of your
   6     role?
   7   A. No. I really did not. I was very aware that first of
   8     all I felt being in two places, it was very far from
   9     ideal. I was very aware that I could not work on Ward 5
  10     in the way that I liked working with families in the
  11     Children's Hospital, which was a mixture of quite
  12     a formal approach with just saying, "This is my room, if
  13     you want to come and knock on the door, you are
  14     welcome".
  15        I also felt that I did not have the background to
  16     help families with the information and I felt that it
  17     needed somebody down there, apart from the fact that
  18     I was very busy and it was quite difficult trying to
  19     meet the needs of families down on Ward 5 because of
  20     open-heart surgery, which was a very, very stressful
  21     time, and obviously bereavements as well, dealing with
  22     the families at the BCH. I welcomed that post.
  23   Q. You gave some comments on Helen Stratton's statement,
  24     WIT 256/15; in which you mentioned that Helen Stratton
  25     contacted you in July 1990, and there are various diary
   1     items referring to contact with her.
   2        Did you discuss, then, the nature of the two roles
   3     before Helen Stratton went to interview?
   4   A. I cannot remember the details of our conversations.
   5     I do remember that Helen Stratton contacted me. I did
   6     not know her. She contacted me because she had either
   7     seen the job advert, or I am not even sure it was not
   8     before the job advert came out, and she wanted to talk
   9     about my role and she wanted to know about the cardiac
  10     services in the Children's Hospital generally and on
  11     Ward 5.
  12        I cannot remember whether we talked very
  13     specifically about how the two posts would marry
  14     together, but I do know that we met, I think, a few
  15     times and we also talked about her actual interview and
  16     the areas that she might be questioned on.
  17   Q. What she said to the Inquiry was that when she took up
  18     the post the role that she envisaged doing -- this is
  19     page 37, line 5 onwards, for the note, of yesterday's
  20     evidence -- was one of communication between the GP, the
  21     health visitor and the parents, and also acting as an
  22     information source for parents who were often travelling
  23     from Devon and Cornwall to Bristol and making the
  24     transition from the Children's Hospital where they had
  25     the initial diagnosis and investigations to the Bristol
   1     Royal Infirmary smoother and more informed. That was
   2     her understanding. She said essentially it was
   3     an information-giving, communicating, co-ordinating
   4     role.
   5        Was that your understanding of her position as
   6     well?
   7   A. I was not so aware of the liaison aspect of her job. My
   8     understanding of her post was that she was I thought an
   9     experienced, qualified nurse; that she would be based
  10     down on Ward 5; that she would be there to both support
  11     the parents at the time when the child entered Ward 5,
  12     just pre-operatively, and would be there to keep them
  13     informed about the child's medical condition or could be
  14     a contact with medical staff, nursing staff.
  15        I was not particularly aware of the liaison role
  16     with GPs and health visitors routinely. Had I been,
  17     that would have been fine, but I think it was more the
  18     aspect of being there for the families when the children
  19     had open-heart surgery.
  20   Q. So you understood her to be based at the Royal
  21     Infirmary?
  22   A. Yes.
  23   Q. And you would be based at the Children's Hospital?
  24   A. Yes.
  25   Q. If you had that understanding, where did it come from?
   1   A. Certainly from Jean Pratten. Very, very clearly from
   2     Jean Pratten. I cannot remember very clearly whether --
   3     I think I did discuss the post with Julie Vass, or with
   4     the Manager -- I do not think Julie Vass was there at
   5     the time. I have some idea of talking to the Manager,
   6     because I remember saying to somebody, and I cannot
   7     remember who that was, "Is it possible for me to help
   8     with the job description or sit in on the interview?"
   9     and I was told that was not either appropriate or
  10     possible.
  11        But, you know, there was no question in my mind
  12     that there would be any difficulty about the post
  13     marrying in.
  14   Q. At what point did you realise that she envisaged that
  15     her role should at least involve regular attendance at
  16     the Children's Hospital, and that she wanted to have
  17     a role in being with parents during the initial
  18     discussions of diagnosis and surgical options?
  19   A. My understanding is that I do not think this was ever
  20     discussed formally. I actually went down to outpatients
  21     one day and she was actually there, and I remembered
  22     being very confused about why she was there and why she
  23     had not said she was going to be there. There were
  24     other instances that happened where I understood from
  25     nursing staff that she had come up to the ward of the
   1     Children's Hospital to see families, or from the
   2     Secretary's to look at notes.
   3        Although we did have meetings, I tried to clarify
   4     and to raise this issue, and somehow it just was not
   5     possible to do that. It did not seem possible to have
   6     a discussion as to, you know, why she had been in
   7     outpatients and her involvement with the Children's
   8     Hospital.
   9   Q. Well, she was a nurse; she had the medical background,
  10     training, that you lacked from that training. Would it
  11     not have been helpful to have had someone whose role it
  12     was to sit in on discussions with families, so as to be
  13     able to provide further explanation or assistance with
  14     the information that was given to them if families
  15     wanted it?
  16   A. Absolutely. I have actually mentioned in research and
  17     other papers, it was not a problem. I actually felt
  18     that a cardiac liaison nurse available to families was
  19     a very good thing. I think that the difficulty was that
  20     there was a gradual breaking down of communication
  21     between Helen and myself at a point where it was not
  22     possible to discuss how our two roles were merged.
  23     I mean, I had no idea, in fact, until her statement came
  24     out or I sat in on the Inquiry, that she saw that as
  25     part of her role and that she was very unhappy about the
   1     way in which her role was perceived.
   2        Somehow, it was not possible to sit down and say,
   3     "Well, yes, that makes sense, that you sit in
   4     outpatients, so maybe we sit together, or you refer
   5     families to me". The communication was not there.
   6     I found it increasingly very difficult and very
   7     stressful.
   8   Q. Was communication difficult in the breakdown between
   9     yourself and Helen Stratton, or between yourself and
  10     management or other figures with whom you might have
  11     sorted this problem out?
  12   A. No, I do not think there was any breakdown with
  13     management. When I began to realise that there were
  14     real difficulties in my communication relationship with
  15     Helen Stratton and that I was very concerned this was
  16     going to start impinging on families, I brought my
  17     concerns to Dr Joffe and he certainly was very receptive
  18     to these. I think we felt, together, I think I also --
  19     I do not know whether I would -- I think I only
  20     discussed with Dr Joffe. I think it was felt that we
  21     would have to clarify things in a meeting. I think
  22     I probably would have discussed with Julie Vass as well.
  23   Q. There has been evidence of an early meeting with
  24     yourself, with Dr Joffe, with I think Mr Wisheart as
  25     well, discussing this matter. Do you have any
   1     recollection of that?
   2   A. I do recollect the meeting, yes.
   3   Q. What was the outcome of it, in terms of who was to work
   4     where and perform what role?
   5   A. There was actually a document that I was sent by I think
   6     it was Julie Vass, outlining the areas of discussion,
   7     and if my memory serves me I think it was decided that,
   8     because of unfortunately the lack of communication, we
   9     would have to work in different hospitals: that she
  10     would be based down at the BRI and that I would be in
  11     the Children's Hospital, but that we would meet very
  12     regularly so that we were discussing families, and if
  13     either of us wanted to visit either hospital, we would
  14     refer to the other.
  15   Q. If we can look at page 110, please, this may be the
  16     document you have been referring to. This is
  17     WIT 192/110.
  18        This is a letter written by Julie Crowley dated
  19     January 1992, which is recapping on discussions and it
  20     talks about the awareness of both teams having
  21     difficulty, the fact that there has been difficulty in
  22     achieving a smooth, free flow of communication and in
  23     generally understanding each other's roles.
  24        It goes on to discuss the demarcation between you
  25     two. Broadly speaking, as you have said, it puts
   1     Helen Stratton into a role at the BRI and yourself at
   2     the BCH with communication between the two of you.
   3        If in fact it would have been sensible or helpful
   4     to have had a cardiac liaison nurse attending
   5     discussions with parents about diagnosis, about surgery,
   6     at the BCH, why was this solution adopted?
   7   A. I cannot recall exactly how that decision was made.
   8     Obviously it would have been made between all of us. My
   9     memory of that period was that the level of
  10     non-communication from Helen to myself was really quite
  11     extreme and there was also certainly in a sense for me,
  12     that I was undervalued professionally and personally.
  13   Q. By whom?
  14   A. By Helen, and I can only imagine that that solution was
  15     because we could not, sadly, work in a joint role
  16     together, or actually be together at that period, which
  17     is, you know, one that I have to say, I found extremely
  18     difficult and, as I say, very stressful. I think it was
  19     felt that in order that families would not in any way
  20     hopefully be compromised, that we would have weekly
  21     meetings and we would confer with one another and we
  22     would still show families down to BRI together, which we
  23     did on occasions.
  24   Q. This document says that the weekly meetings -- we will
  25     look over the page at page 111 -- should be maintained,
   1     which implies that you were still having weekly meetings
   2     with her?
   3   A. Yes, and my diary shows that.
   4   Q. Even prior to this letter?
   5   A. As far as I am aware, I would have to look at my diaries
   6     for that.
   7   Q. If you were having weekly meetings with her, why was the
   8     breakdown of communication so extreme that you had to
   9     confine each other to separate hospitals in order to
  10     achieve a sensible demarcation of roles?
  11   A. My memory says that during those meetings we probably
  12     discussed families, but what it was not possible to
  13     discuss was the greater issue of actually working
  14     together.
  15        I can only say that it was a gradual breakdown of
  16     communication in the sense that Helen seemed to be doing
  17     things, arranging meetings, without me being aware of
  18     this, and certainly I was completely unaware of the fact
  19     that she clearly, from what she was saying yesterday,
  20     was under a lot of stress and very confused about and
  21     felt very unsupported in the role. We did not look at
  22     her role and my role at all. Somehow -- I do not want
  23     to sound personal because it is maybe not the arena to
  24     do that, but I just found her manner to me impossible.
  25     I can only put it like that.
   1   Q. You have said that that letter records a joint solution,
   2     or a solution that was a consensus on the part of those
   3     involved at the meeting, but Helen Stratton's evidence
   4     was that she felt she was being "put back in her box" as
   5     a result of the solution recorded in this letter?
   6   A. I cannot comment on that. I mean, I can only assume
   7     that there was some consensus that came out of that
   8     meeting. I mean, clearly there was not, from Helen's
   9     point of view, but I do not know whether I would have
  10     been aware of that at the time.
  11   Q. If we turn back to the first page, page 110, at the very
  12     bottom it says both of you have ample workload in your
  13     respective areas.
  14        "It has been agreed all round that these roles are
  15     similar but extremely different, and because of this,
  16     the need for good communication was essential."
  17        What did you understand by the phrase "similar but
  18     extremely different"?
  19   A. Helen was a nurse, and I think an extremely experienced
  20     nurse, and my background was obviously different.
  21     I think there would have been an area in the middle
  22     where we would both have had a role in supporting,
  23     inverted commas, "counselling" families. Helen,
  24     obviously her nursing background would have meant she
  25     was there helping families with the medical nursing
   1     aspect. I was more on the emotional, psychological
   2     side. But in the middle there would have been some
   3     common area, for example, maybe perhaps
   4     information-giving, perhaps an element of liaison with
   5     the community, or preparation to go into the community.
   6     And the support aspect. So although our jobs were very
   7     different, inevitably, because we were dealing with
   8     families, there must have been some common ground.
   9   Q. If it had been the case that Helen Stratton had worked
  10     more at the Children's Hospital and had undertaken
  11     a more active role in being involved with parents from
  12     the start in providing medical information, would that
  13     not have given rise to difficult issues of transition
  14     between two support workers, the hand-over of families
  15     from one worker to another?
  16   A. That is slightly hypothetical, if I may say so.
  17   Q. Is it, because you have said you would welcome someone
  18     to be more involved in that aspect of things? But take
  19     a case of a family who have come into admission, you
  20     have greeted them on admission, you have established an
  21     initial relationship with them. Perhaps you have taken
  22     them down to the catheter room; they have had
  23     a catheterisation with your assistance, and then after
  24     that, the stage at which they first meet the surgeon
  25     arises because there has been a more accurate diagnosis.
   1        At that stage, it is perhaps thought for the first
   2     time that Helen Stratton might be of assistance.
   3        How do you manage the transition between the two
   4     roles at that point and immediately afterwards?
   5   A. I can only think of an example with other disciplines.
   6     I have worked with the same family, with social --
   7   Q. Can you speak up a little more?
   8   A. I am sorry. I can only speak for example with other
   9     disciplines. I have worked jointly with the same family
  10     with social work or with chaplains, or -- those are two
  11     examples that come to mind at the moment. It has not
  12     been a problem, because we are not necessarily doing the
  13     same thing at the same time.
  14        I think, had we been able to work together in
  15     a different way, my guess would have been that families
  16     probably would have used me sometimes, her sometimes, or
  17     they may have had a preference because, after all, I am
  18     not going to get on with every family and there are
  19     going to be some that choose not to see me or not to
  20     have seen Helen. I think we would have had to have sat
  21     down together very carefully and thought about these
  22     issues.
  23   Q. Take another example. Take a family whose child has
  24     been undergoing surgery and as a result Helen Stratton
  25     has been involved, sitting with them in ITU, explaining
   1     the procedures that have just taken place and supporting
   2     them through the aftermath of care within the ITU. That
   3     may go on for quite a while, perhaps a few days, but
   4     sadly, at the end of that, the child dies, and therefore
   5     the issue of bereavement support and counselling comes
   6     to the fore once more. It might be thought that would
   7     be more naturally your role than Helen Stratton's.
   8        On the other hand, the family has developed
   9     a relationship with Helen Stratton over the past few
  10     days. How would you have managed that situation?
  11   A. I think the parents are the best judge of what they
  12     want. I mean, I would have hoped, had that situation
  13     existed, that nursing staff or doctors or whoever would
  14     have said to the family, "Would you like Helen Vegoda or
  15     Helen Stratton to be involved, or to be here?" and the
  16     family themselves would have made that decision.
  17   Q. Did you ever consider those sorts of issues at the time
  18     when you became aware that Helen Stratton was working or
  19     seeking to work within the BCH?
  20   A. I did attempt to, but I got met with, I do not know,
  21     a very defensive, unhelpful response. I just was not
  22     able to take it any further.
  23   Q. So as I understand it, you are saying these sorts of
  24     issues were never discussed or teased out?
  25   A. It was not possible to, no.
   1   Q. But Helen Stratton's evidence was that this is what she
   2     wanted; she did want to be able to take up more of
   3     a role at the BCH, but that her perception was that
   4     whenever this was raised, you felt that she was in some
   5     way encroaching or threatening on your role at the
   6     Children's Hospital.
   7   A. I think I said before that until I actually read her
   8     statement and I heard her express herself yesterday,
   9     I was not aware of some of her perceptions of what she
  10     actually wanted in the job, nor was I aware of the
  11     degree to which she was clearly very unhappy and felt
  12     very unsupported.
  13        I can only say that it is with great sadness,
  14     because I feel that we were not able to communicate but
  15     we could have been mutually supportive, had that been
  16     the case, but her way of behaving with me was just very,
  17     very undermining, and I could not deal with that.
  18   Q. So is this an issue about a clash or a lack of empathy
  19     between personalities, or does it say anything about the
  20     way in which the two roles were structured from the
  21     start?
  22   A. I think it is both, probably. I think that there should
  23     certainly have been more discussion before her post was
  24     actually advertised. I think it would have been very
  25     helpful had there been some sort of team meeting
   1     involving myself and managers and other people and maybe
   2     Jean Pratten, to actually tease that out. I think
   3     probably that was not a good foundation, but at the same
   4     time -- this is where I was very confused -- Helen
   5     actually sought me out and I believe that I really was
   6     welcoming to her as an individual, but also to the post,
   7     and I felt that we had begun to -- not discuss the
   8     details, but certainly that there was awareness of what
   9     I was going to do and what she might do if she got the
  10     job and therefore there was that foundation, to take off
  11     from there. It did not happen.
  12   Q. She described yesterday her relationship with you as
  13     being "professional but cool". Is that an accurate
  14     statement from your point of view?
  15   A. I find that an extremely difficult question, because at
  16     times I do not believe her behaviour to me was
  17     professional. I am not suggesting that her work with
  18     the families was not, but her actual professional
  19     relationship with me, her personal relationship with me,
  20     was I think bordering on not being professional, and
  21     I think was more than cold.
  22   Q. That relates back, does it, to the issue of whether or
  23     not your skills were being recognised or valued by
  24     Helen Stratton?
  25   A. I do not know what it was about. I have to be honest
   1     and say, I never understood her behaviour and her
   2     professional relationship with me. I did not understand
   3     why she could not communicate, why she was personally
   4     really quite rude to me. I did not understand where
   5     that was coming from. I still do not understand where
   6     that is coming from.
   7   Q. Did you take any steps then to raise that difficulty
   8     with Julie Vass?
   9   A. I talked to both Julie Vass and Dr Joffe. I was
  10     actually very upset by what was going on and I was
  11     concerned about it.
  12   Q. And what was done in response to that talk?
  13   A. Well, we had the meeting.
  14   Q. That meeting took place in around January 1992, which
  15     was a full year after Helen Stratton had been
  16     appointed. How long had it taken for these difficulties
  17     to emerge?
  18   A. I am not absolutely sure. We met together fairly
  19     regularly to start with, and I can only assume that the
  20     first few months I think seemed okay.
  21   Q. If I could help you, if we go back to the letter that we
  22     have been looking at and the third paragraph, which you
  23     can just see on the screen, there Miss Crowley talks
  24     about having had previous talks which were aimed at
  25     assisting both in defining your individual roles.
   1   A. Yes.
   2   Q. Can you help us any further on those?
   3   A. I cannot. I can only imagine that she means not joint
   4     talks together. I think there was only one formal
   5     meeting. There would have been other times when I would
   6     have gone and talked to her and Dr Joffe. If I could
   7     just come back to what you asked before, I think that
   8     I was aware of a gradual breakdown and, for example,
   9     just the fact that other people were saying to me that
  10     Helen was coming to the Children's Hospital and I was
  11     not aware of this, and did not understand why that was
  12     not being communicated to me. It seemed a gradual
  13     process that I did not really piece together until maybe
  14     further on that year. I do not know.
  15   Q. So do you think that the attitude that you had or saw
  16     demonstrated by Miss Crowley, by others involved in this
  17     review, was helpful or otherwise in sorting out this
  18     particular matter?
  19   A. My awareness was that I thought it was a workable
  20     solution, yes.
  21   Q. Just to pick up one further aspect of Helen Stratton's
  22     evidence, she was asked yesterday, at page 94 line 18,
  23     whether the difficulties between herself and yourself
  24     related solely to this issue of the BRI/BCH interchange,
  25     or whether she perceived a more general difficulty
   1     between yourself and Ward 5. She said:
   2        "I cannot speak for the nurses on Ward 5, but they
   3     had some, I think, concerns about Helen Vegoda's
   4     involvement with the parents and children, in as much as
   5     they did not believe that she had the appropriate
   6     nursing background to deal with some of the issues that
   7     the parents would be asking. So whilst I understand she
   8     was always made welcome at the Royal Infirmary, I think
   9     the nurses did sometimes feel and perhaps part of the
  10     evolvement of the job I did, was that they would have
  11     welcomed someone who could talk to the parents about
  12     different aspects of the intensive care unit and they
  13     could have had more of a rapport than with someone who
  14     did not come from a clinical background."
  15        Were you aware of this sort of reaction on the
  16     part of any of the nurses on Ward 5?
  17   A. Certainly not collectively, no. I mean, I certainly got
  18     to know some of the nurses down on Ward 5, and talked to
  19     them, but I was very aware that I would not -- I did not
  20     talk to them about the child's medical condition.
  21     I am sure I was particularly aware of that. I was
  22     certainly aware myself that I could not be there for the
  23     families in that capacity, but I do not know that I was
  24     particularly aware of nursing staff.
  25   Q. But the implication is that they were at least less than
   1     100 per cent supportive of your involvement because they
   2     felt its limitations in that you did not have a nursing
   3     background in your role.
   4        Did you ever pick up any such perceptions from any
   5     nursing staff on Ward 5?
   6   A. What I do remember -- and this was before Helen Stratton
   7     came -- was that one of the difficulties of the split
   8     site and the fact that I was going down to Ward 5 was
   9     that I did not really get to know the nurses well. We
  10     did not sit together and have time to discuss the role.
  11     I went down there to see families and sort of came out
  12     again. That was not my base. So I do not think
  13     I necessarily developed a sort of close rapport with the
  14     nursing staff, but that was the main reason, and also
  15     the fact that there were a lot of nursing staff and, you
  16     know, they were continually changing.
  17   MISS GREY: Sir, we have been hearing evidence for an hour
  18     and 20 minutes. I wonder if that might be a convenient
  19     moment to break for, say, a quarter of an hour?
  20   THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, shall we do that, then, and reconvene
  21     about around 25 to 3? Thank you.
  22   (2.25 pm)
  23               (A short break)
  24   (2.45 pm)
  25   MISS GREY: If we could turn back to your role as the family
   1     counsellor at the BCH -- let us talk first about the
   2     period before Helen Stratton came into office. You were
   3     dealing with large numbers of families coming in every
   4     week. Were you able to provide them all with the
   5     support, help, assistance, that you felt they needed?
   6   A. I tried my best, but inevitably, there were going to be
   7     some families that I did not manage to see. For
   8     example, when families came in for catheterisation, they
   9     were often only there for maybe one or two nights, so it
  10     is possible there are some families I just did not
  11     manage to see.
  12   Q. There was one of you. Was it enough?
  13   A. No, because it would have been very helpful right at the
  14     beginning had there been somebody covering Ward 5.
  15     I think the split site was very difficult.
  16   Q. So when Helen Stratton took up her role at Ward 5, was
  17     that enough? Were two of you adequate to cover this
  18     ward?
  19   A. I would have thought so, yes. I mean, from my
  20     perspective, I can only say it certainly made it easier
  21     that I could concentrate on the families at the
  22     Children's Hospital.
  23   Q. If we look at some of the research which you did, you
  24     conducted a survey in 1993. This is page 65 of your
  25     witness statement. It starts at page 65: a study
   1     looking into the level of information and support given
   2     to families, attending specifically for catheterisation,
   3     I think this research was?
   4   A. Yes.
   5   Q. You analysed using material gained in interview and
   6     questionnaires, the presence or lack of parental support
   7     and information and the general experience families had
   8     had attending the BCH for catheterisation?
   9   A. Yes.
  10   Q. If we look at page 69 of this document, we can see from
  11     the first page that the work that you did now took place
  12     in the first half of 1993?
  13   A. Yes.
  14   Q. So that was obviously after Helen Stratton had taken up
  15     her post, and she was still in post during the time of
  16     this work?
  17   A. Yes. She would have been.
  18   Q. If we turn over the page to page 72, the findings are
  19     set out there. It says that "support at the time of
  20     initial diagnosis...". At the time of initial
  21     diagnosis, 45 per cent did get support from the hospital
  22     source; 53 per cent did not, and of the 32 who did not
  23     get support, 25 per cent said they would have liked it.
  24        You go on to break down the source of support.
  25     The majority of those who got it in hospital at that
   1     stage were receiving it from you; is that right?
   2   A. Well, obviously that is what it says here, yes.
   3   Q. Then if we go on to support to parents at notification
   4     of catheterisation: 62 per cent did not turn to their
   5     families and friends, and again, we see that there was
   6     still a fair number of parents, 16 parents, who did not
   7     use the hospital as a source of support at the time, and
   8     8 expressed disappointment at not being aware that they
   9     could have done so.
  10        Then a number of parents were remarking on the
  11     absence of written information.
  12        I am trying to summarise this very full document
  13     briefly, but is it fair to say that it paints a picture
  14     of parents who were still not accessing or were not
  15     aware of the support that you could give them within the
  16     BCH?
  17   A. Clearly it must do, and I can only surmise, looking back
  18     at this stage, that that could have been for a number of
  19     reasons. It could be that there were some families who
  20     had not been to Bristol before and either were not aware
  21     that I existed or possibly were sent a leaflet and did
  22     not take particular note of it. There may have been
  23     other reasons, but, yes, clearly there were families who
  24     were not aware.
  25   Q. If we turn to page 78 of your study, the recommendations
   1     start at the bottom of the page and you talk about the
   2     need for a key hospital liaison professional to meet the
   3     needs of families with disabilities. You identify the
   4     absence of respite care and baby-sitting facilities, but
   5     if we turn over the page, we can see that you also made
   6     recommendations about information that was needed, and
   7     looking about halfway down the page, you speak there
   8     about more awareness by professions and families of the
   9     counsellor post at the BCH and its availability to all,
  10     and you say that it may need to be more widely
  11     advertised, and you go on to talk also about further
  12     promotion of voluntary organisations and a wider
  13     distribution of information already existing for parents
  14     and professions on admission, and so on.
  15        How well advertised do you think, having conducted
  16     that research, your post had been?
  17   A. I have to say that most of the impetus would have been
  18     left to me. I had to be very proactive about finding
  19     ways in which health professionals or parents or
  20     voluntary organisations knew about my existence, and
  21     I do certainly remember feeling slightly overwhelmed by
  22     the fact that the South West was a very large area, so
  23     I think what I was very aware of -- and I tried to deal
  24     with this in various ways -- was to make sure that
  25     people knew of my post through leaflets and various
   1     other ways I can talk about perhaps in a minute. But
   2     I was very aware that there was not necessarily
   3     a consistent structure by which I could make sure that
   4     all GPs or all health visitors, for example, knew that
   5     my post existed. That actually felt rather
   6     overwhelming, outside my grasp.
   7   Q. If a number of parents still were calling on you and
   8     afterwards, when contacted in the survey, felt
   9     disappointment that they had not known about it, is that
  10     because there was not enough information available about
  11     your role, or is it because there was not enough time
  12     for you to fill the gap by contacting parents?
  13   A. When you say "contacting parents", do you mean before
  14     they came into the hospital? Or actually while they
  15     were in the hospital?
  16   Q. Primarily while they were in the hospital.
  17   A. It is difficult to answer. I know that I made a very
  18     particular point of trying to meet as many of the
  19     catheter families as I could -- hence the reason for the
  20     research. I have always felt that was a very stressful
  21     area. But inevitably, there were going to be a number
  22     that I did not meet. That was bound to have happened.
  23        As far as parents knowing about my post before
  24     they came, I think there was a section of them that
  25     possibly did not look at the leaflets that came through,
   1     because we know from experience that parents do not
   2     always read absolutely everything that comes through at
   3     the time of an appointment, so there might have been
   4     a section that did not.
   5        Then there would have been a number, you know,
   6     GPs, health visitors, who would not have been aware.
   7   Q. But if there were a number of parents who did not see
   8     you, whom you inevitably missed say on the ward rounds,
   9     who did not read leaflets and the health visitors were
  10     not aware, how did you ensure, in your job, that those
  11     who most needed your help did receive it?
  12   A. I think I would like to make a distinction, actually,
  13     between the families that came in for a length of time,
  14     the ones that came in, for example, for planned
  15     operations, or came in as emergencies and then were in
  16     the hospital quite a long time. Those families I would
  17     sincerely hope that I did meet and that I was able to
  18     prioritise my time. But there was a large turnover of
  19     families, for example, who came in for catheterisation,
  20     who were really only in for sometimes a day.
  21        In fact, what I did to address those families or
  22     the health professionals that did not know about my
  23     post, was in a number of ways. Partly by organising
  24     study days for health professionals, over I think about
  25     three or four years, partly for the reason of promoting
   1     what was available in Bristol, not just for myself, but
   2     generally for cardiac families, and also by producing,
   3     for example, three booklets for families.
   4        So I think I was certainly aware that there were
   5     going to be some gaps, but I think I tried to address
   6     those in the only way that I could, to do something
   7     practical.
   8   Q. You mention in this work the need for a wider
   9     distribution and availability of information already
  10     existing for parents and professionals in the form of
  11     books, leaflets and videos, and you suggest that for
  12     instance a pack might have to be produced.
  13        What was done as a result of this research?
  14   A. Do you mean from myself, or anybody else?
  15   Q. Within the BCH, the organisation with which you were
  16     working.
  17   A. If I am honest, not a lot. I did distribute the paper
  18     to the cardiologists and the surgeons, I believe.
  19     I cannot remember who else. I have to say, I think
  20     I was quite disappointed that I actually did not get
  21     a lot of feedback or discussion from it.
  22   Q. In general, did you find that when you were working and
  23     you made suggestions for improvements on information,
  24     for instance to parents or other professionals, you got
  25     a response to that, or not?
   1   A. Yes. For example, I helped to produce these three
   2     booklets and Dr Joffe was one of the people that helped
   3     to produce them, and other people as well, dieticians
   4     and others. And I got a lot of support for that sort of
   5     initiative. I got a huge amount of support for
   6     organising the study days from the whole team. I mean,
   7     both surgeons and the cardiologists and others involved
   8     with cardiac children were very, very supportive and
   9     gave their time, and they were very successful.
  10        So I feel that when I came up with an idea or
  11     initiative, it was supported.
  12   Q. So what would your overall assessment be of the adequacy
  13     of the information that was given in written form to
  14     parents either before they came into the hospital or on
  15     admission?
  16   A. Can I split this down into areas? I believe that once
  17     the booklets were produced, the parents had a lot of
  18     information coming in for catheterisation, because we
  19     sent this to every single parent.
  20   Q. When was that produced?
  21   A. I believe it was something like 1993, but I am sorry,
  22     without referring, I cannot remember.
  23   Q. So from that point, parents had adequate information on
  24     catheterisation?
  25   A. I believe so, and I know that booklet was appreciated.
   1     I think I tried to respond with a general leaflet to
   2     them knowing about my post, but I do not know how
   3     adequate that was. That was sent out by the hospital.
   4        One of the suggestions I know I did make was that
   5     possibly sessions could be taped with the cardiologists
   6     when they discussed, for example, a diagnosis or
   7     information. I had actually read about that somewhere.
   8     That was a recommendation that I made, but nothing
   9     really happened about that.
  10        I felt that it would have been nice to have had
  11     a more streamlined approach to information. This is why
  12     I felt a pack would have filled that gap.
  13   Q. In general, were you ever in the position of suggesting
  14     changes in practises of handling parents or information
  15     for parents?
  16   A. I did discuss, and I think I mentioned this earlier,
  17     being more involved at an earlier stage. I did discuss
  18     that with cardiologists. It was taken up to an extent,
  19     but it was rather piecemeal; that is the way I can put
  20     it.
  21   Q. What do you mean by being involved at an earlier stage?
  22   A. That if it was possible to be involved when the
  23     cardiologists were, for example, talking to parents who
  24     had just come in, so I could be introduced at that
  25     stage, but as I say, that did not really happen in
   1     a streamlined way.
   2   Q. In general, what do you think the dynamics of your
   3     relationship between the medical staff and yourself
   4     were?
   5   A. I think I got on quite well with the cardiologist and
   6     the surgeons on an individual level, and they were very
   7     receptive if I talked to them about particular problems
   8     with a family or families' concerns or the fact that
   9     families were confused or wanted to see them. They were
  10     very receptive to that.
  11        What there was not -- I mentioned this earlier --
  12     there was not a set forum in which we could discuss the
  13     wider needs.
  14   Q. Helen Stratton yesterday described at the BRI an
  15     environment or culture in which the surgeons were
  16     predominant and there was a fairly strict hierarchy of
  17     control leading downwards from them -- I paraphrase, but
  18     that, I think, was the gist.
  19        How do you think that compared, if we assume that
  20     picture to be accurate -- with the situation you
  21     observed at the BCH?
  22   A. Our perspectives were different in that I was not aware
  23     of the relationship, the sort of line of hierarchy, as
  24     it were, in terms of the child's treatment, because that
  25     was not my background, as it were. I certainly found
   1     that nursing staff, particularly on intensive care in
   2     the Children's Hospital, were very aware of needs of
   3     parents or issues that parents might be raising in terms
   4     of a child's treatment, and I did not sense that they
   5     could not go to the cardiologist or the surgeon to
   6     discuss this.
   7   Q. The example of taking foot prints and photographs, foot
   8     and hand prints of children after a death and
   9     photographs was raised yesterday. Was this something
  10     that was a practice at the Children's Hospital when you
  11     were there?
  12   A. Yes, it was. In fact, I have to say that my -- my
  13     memory may be faulty, but I thought that was a practice
  14     at Ward 5 as well, that photographs were taken and hand
  15     and foot prints earlier on, but certainly, nursing staff
  16     and myself, I think, were very aware of those sort of
  17     areas.
  18   Q. Was that a practice when you first arrived?
  19   A. Yes, I think so.
  20   Q. If we turn back to your witness statement, page 3,
  21     WIT 192/3, paragraph 6, you talk about sitting in with
  22     cardiologists and surgeons on occasions.
  23        Can I just ask you, how would you decide which
  24     occasions it would be appropriate to sit in on?
  25   A. What I did was, I made a point of going down to the
   1     outpatients clinics at the BCH, and I think they were on
   2     Wednesdays. That would be when the pre-operative
   3     discussion took place with the parents.
   4        The nursing staff knew that I went down, and what
   5     would happen was that either I met there parents whom
   6     I had met previously, who I knew were going to be there,
   7     and they knew, and I knew that they were going to talk
   8     to the surgeons, so that I might have prearranged to
   9     accompany them, if that is what they wanted. So that
  10     was one set of parents.
  11        Others, the nursing staff might have involved me
  12     and actually said to me, "There is a family in this
  13     afternoon who are going to be talking to one of the
  14     surgeons; it is quite a complex operation, I am just
  15     telling you that". If I did not know that family,
  16     I might go and introduce myself and offer to be around.
  17     But it was the parents' choice. If they did not wish me
  18     to be there, and obviously I cleared this with the
  19     surgeons and the cardiologists, then I would not sit in.
  20   Q. You talk in a little bit more detail at page 9 of your
  21     statement about these discussions with the parents. You
  22     speak about whether or not they understood or asked for
  23     clarification of the word "risk".
  24        How many parents do you think did understand what
  25     the word "risk" meant?
   1   A. I would have said a very high percentage did.
   2   Q. In general, what was your experience of the level of
   3     understanding displayed by parents after discussions
   4     with either the cardiologists or the surgeons about
   5     their child's condition?
   6   A. I cannot judge whether they understood all the details
   7     that were gone into. For example, the surgeons used to
   8     draw a diagram and talk in great detail about the
   9     operation. I did not go into detail with the parents
  10     about how much they understood, but I did try and
  11     ascertain the degree to which they understood the actual
  12     severity of the operation. I felt that, to my
  13     knowledge, most parents did seem to have an
  14     understanding of whether there was a very high risk
  15     operation or this was not a high risk operation, but
  16     I am also quite sure, I am afraid, there would have been
  17     some parents who possibly did get confused and maybe did
  18     not fully understand.
  19   Q. Was it those parents whom you then responded to by
  20     trying to arrange further meetings?
  21   A. If I was aware that families clearly were confused or
  22     wanted to go over the detail, then most certainly, yes.
  23   Q. In all your talks with parents after such discussions
  24     with medical staff, would you perhaps agree that it
  25     might not be unusual for a large number of parents,
   1     perhaps the majority, not to understand the full details
   2     or the details of what was happening to their child, the
   3     implications of what the diagnoses were and the
   4     implications of the course of treatment that was being
   5     suggested?
   6   A. I am sorry, I probably cut off at that point; would you
   7     mind repeating the question? I am sorry.
   8   Q. Perhaps I should phrase it differently. In all your
   9     discussions with parents over the years, what
  10     understanding did you gain, what perception do you have,
  11     of the level of understanding that most had of their
  12     child's condition and the treatment that was being
  13     proposed?
  14   A. I think most parents would have understood the level, as
  15     I say, of severity. I think the majority would have
  16     understood if the surgeons said, "This is an operation
  17     where we expect, for example, 8 or 9 out of 10 children
  18     to come through", that they would have understood that
  19     meant that their child was likely to come through and
  20     this was a fairly low risk operation.
  21        At the other end of the scale, I think they would
  22     have understood where the surgeons made it very clear
  23     that this was a very high risk operation and the risks
  24     were high.
  25   Q. What was the point of recommending, for instance, as you
   1     did in 1995, that a tape of the conversation between
   2     parents and the cardiologist might be made available to
   3     parents? What further information did you want them to
   4     capture?
   5   A. That was based on two things, really. When I was doing
   6     my research, I read a lot of different papers written by
   7     other people and quite a number of these papers referred
   8     to the fact that parents only took in a certain amount
   9     of information, particularly at the time of diagnosis.
  10     I think I was actually referring particularly to the
  11     cardiologist talking to parents at the time of diagnosis
  12     when I referred to taping. For example, if it was
  13     a newly diagnosed child, apparently, according to these
  14     papers, parents would hear the word "heart condition"
  15     and often just did not hear the details of what that
  16     meant.
  17        Certainly, my own experience was that at that
  18     time, if it was complex, they really did not take in all
  19     the details. It was not my idea; I had read that an
  20     experiment had been done where a cardiologist had agreed
  21     to have himself taped and the parents had found that
  22     helpful.
  23   Q. Perhaps just for the sake of completeness, we should
  24     show you the comment that has come in from Mr Wisheart
  25     to this part of your statement. It is to be found at
   1     WIT 192/241.
   2        He comments on your recollection that you cannot
   3     recall either surgeon routinely mentioning morbidity or
   4     neurological deficit. I think you have had an
   5     opportunity to look through these comments by
   6     Mr Wisheart; is that right?
   7   A. Yes, very briefly.
   8   Q. Is there anything that you that you feel you need to add
   9     to that, or would you disagree or agree with what he has
  10     to say there?
  11   A. What I meant in my statement was that my recollection
  12     was that he did not routinely, every time, talk about
  13     whether there might be complication or whether there
  14     might be brain damage or something like that, but he did
  15     on occasions do that.
  16        I was thinking about it afterwards and I know
  17     that, for example, both surgeons were always very clear
  18     with, say, coarctation, that there might be
  19     a complication with paralysis of the lower limbs, and
  20     I remember that because parents were often extremely
  21     upset when that was said.
  22        So I would not want to change what I have actually
  23     said in my statement. I do not remember routinely, but
  24     certainly something like that, with that operation.
  25   Q. So certainly you are re-emphasising the meaning of the
   1     word "routinely" in your statement?
   2   A. Yes.
   3   Q. And not, I think, disputing the further amplification
   4     provided by Mr Wisheart; is that correct?
   5   A. Yes, it is correct, yes.
   6   Q. If we can just turn briefly to the Bereavement Support
   7     Group that you discussed as part and parcel of your
   8     evidence, I think it is right that one was set up in
   9     around 1992 as a means of bringing parents together who
  10     had suffered similar losses; is that right?
  11   A. What had happened was that Charmian Mann, the then
  12     Chaplain to the hospital, and myself, who worked quite
  13     closely together, were very aware that there possibly
  14     was a need to offer that type of support. We were both
  15     offering individual support and support in other ways to
  16     bereaved parents, but what was not available from the
  17     point of view of the hospital was some sort of group,
  18     and we both felt that parents might benefit from being
  19     able to talk to other bereaved cardiac families.
  20        So what we arranged was to offer, I think it was
  21     something like 6 or 8 sessions, I think it was once
  22     a week -- it was either once a week or once a month,
  23     I am sorry I cannot remember -- either in Charmian's
  24     house or in a hall that we used.
  25   Q. Why did that group come to a close?
   1   A. There were something like six sessions and then we
   2     reviewed it, then we had another six sessions a time
   3     later.
   4        We held these meetings in the evening and we did
   5     not actually feel they were terribly well supported.
   6     I cannot remember how many families came to them.
   7     A number of families said they would like to but they
   8     could not because of the distance, so in the end, we
   9     actually felt that they were not particularly well
  10     supported.
  11   Q. Were families involved in your counselling in other ways
  12     and in particular, did you ever encourage or participate
  13     in peer counselling in appropriate situations by
  14     introducing parents to each other?
  15   A. Yes, I did. I had a lot of contact with bereaved
  16     parents after a child had died. This was by way of
  17     either individual contact with me if they lived locally
  18     or they wanted to come and see me, but I always offered
  19     to -- not always; I tried to offer to put parents in
  20     touch with other parents, if that is what they felt they
  21     needed. But at the same time, I also gave them
  22     information about voluntary organisations in their area.
  23   Q. Do you think, then, that the bereavement services which
  24     you were involved in from 1988 to 1995 at the Children's
  25     Hospital were cohesive?
   1   A. Given the fact that for part of that time there was only
   2     one of me, I actually do feel that there was a fairly
   3     comprehensive service to parents. I mean, what I had
   4     personally to offer was my own support and counselling
   5     at the very time that a child died, if that is what the
   6     the parents wanted, and that took various forms.
   7     I maintained contact with parents by way of cards and
   8     phone calls, and I was available if they wanted to see
   9     me or they wanted me to arrange meetings with anybody
  10     else. I organised services, remembrance services, for
  11     about three or four years and I tried to give them
  12     information, as I say, about other resources, books and
  13     such like, and we tried to organise these groups.
  14        So I do not think there was anything else I could
  15     have done. I mean, I am hoping that the service was
  16     adequate, but, you know, I did what I could.
  17   Q. What about, not necessarily your role, but you were
  18     involved in liaising with other people and there are
  19     issues about how your role would lock onto the role, for
  20     instance, of Mr Milkins in organising aspects of the
  21     administrative, practical aspects of a death and on the
  22     other side, in handing parents over to community
  23     services or organising assistance for them within the
  24     community after a death at the BCH.
  25        If we take the first one first, were services
   1     within the hospital coherent?
   2   A. Yes, I think they were. I did not personally contact
   3     Graham Milkins. That would normally have been the
   4     nursing staff and the nursing staff were very much the
   5     key people dealing with the family. I came in if the
   6     family wanted me to, but I would not have been the
   7     person that got in touch with others.
   8        When it came to the family going back into the
   9     community, normally routinely I would not have been the
  10     person to contact GPs and health visitors. That would
  11     have been done usually I believe by the nursing staff,
  12     or possibly by medical staff. But having said that,
  13     I did contact GPs and health visitors where I had
  14     particular concern for a family and I felt that they
  15     either were not going to cope well, or they were
  16     unsupported or they were just needing more support.
  17   Q. How did you decide the point at which your role should
  18     cease and community services, if they existed, should
  19     take it over?
  20   A. I think I mentioned before, to an extent the families
  21     made that decision. There were some families whom
  22     I would always actually try and ask a family when they
  23     left a hospital, "Would you like me to continue being
  24     involved? Would you object if I phoned you?" for
  25     example. If I phoned the family a few days or whatever
   1     it was after the death and I then said, you know, "Is it
   2     okay if I go on telephoning?" if I got a negative
   3     response, if the family did not seem to want that
   4     contact, then I ceased that contact, in which case the
   5     only contact I probably would have had would be to send
   6     out cards and invite them to the services. But there
   7     were quite a number of families where I was continuing
   8     a very active bereavement counselling role over a number
   9     of years, but there might have been other people
  10     involved, so there would not necessarily have been
  11     a cut-off point. My contact with bereaved families was
  12     entirely open-ended.
  13   Q. We heard a discussion on Monday of whether or not the
  14     UBHT might develop, or whether it would be appropriate
  15     for a hospital to develop a bereavement service based in
  16     the hospital. There are obviously different views upon
  17     such a service. Do you have views upon whether or not
  18     ongoing commitment from the hospital is appropriate?
  19   A. Quite a few years ago I went to visit Alder Hey
  20     Hospital, because as I have said, I have always had
  21     a particular interest in improvement -- I am not just
  22     saying it because you [Mrs Mandelson] are sitting
  23     there! I had read about the work that Alder Hey was
  24     doing. I was actually very impressed by that sort of
  25     model, that this was a centre in a hospital that was
   1     a resource. I feel quite strongly that if that sort of
   2     resource could be available, not necessarily in BCH but
   3     at a hospital in Bristol, as a regional resource, I feel
   4     that that will be enormously supportive and educative,
   5     not only for families, but for health, education,
   6     professionals.
   7   Q. The objection that was put to it was that there was an
   8     issue about the point at which families needed to let go
   9     and that to offer an open-ended commitment for say up to
  10     five years might not be appropriate.
  11   A. I would like to make a distinction between first of all
  12     the -- I do not think that the resource should
  13     necessarily be in the hospital where the child was.
  14     I am thinking really of a regional centre. But again,
  15     I do not really see it like that. I think we have to be
  16     guided by families and I believe that there are some
  17     families who get an enormous amount of comfort and
  18     support from coming back to the place where their child
  19     was, maybe still seeing some staff, being able to talk
  20     about their child. There are other families who the
  21     last thing they ever want to do is to come back into
  22     that same place.
  23        So there is the issue of the actual hospital in
  24     which that child died, but what I had in mind
  25     particularly -- can I just add that I think personally
   1     that we are not the judges of those. I am not
   2     a bereaved parent. If any parent wishes to come back to
   3     BCH, then I think we should facilitate that, within
   4     reason, if we have the resources. But I really have in
   5     mind more that there would be a base where bereaved
   6     parents can go and possibly get individual or group
   7     support, but maybe some sort of resource for videos and
   8     for books, and that would apply to health professionals
   9     as well.
  10   Q. You have been talking of your involvement with bereaved
  11     parents. You mentioned one specific aspect of it in
  12     your statement at the bottom of page 7, where you start
  13     to talk about the issue of tissue retention. The issue
  14     is set out at the bottom of page 7. You go on to make
  15     your substantive comment at paragraph 19, page 8.
  16        You discuss there the fact that you say that staff
  17     always handled this matter with sensitivity and in
  18     a proper manner and that the full information was given
  19     so far as you are aware. Then you go on to say that in
  20     the case of a Coroner's postmortem, the parents were
  21     being told why their permission was not being sought.
  22        Can you recollect any incidents and discussions of
  23     non-Coroner's postmortems, hospital autopsies?
  24   A. Yes. Not specific instances, but I think there were
  25     instances where I sat in and a postmortem was mentioned.
   1   Q. Can you remember in those cases what parents were being
   2     told about their rights to consent or not consent to
   3     such an investigation?
   4   A. My memory is that they were told, I think with
   5     sensitivity -- not told, they were asked whether they
   6     would agree to a postmortem and if it was not
   7     a Coroner's, that this was their decision, that they did
   8     not have to agree to that, but that it might be helpful
   9     to them, to give some additional information, possibly
  10     about why the death occurred.
  11        My memory was that it was tackled sensitively and
  12     that doctors did say something to the effect of, "I can
  13     appreciate that this is distressing for you", something
  14     like that.
  15   Q. Who would be likely to be involved in such a discussion?
  16   A. I think it probably would have been the surgeons. I am
  17     trying to think whether -- it might have been
  18     cardiologists, but I believe it was surgeons.
  19   Q. Would the patient administration officer, someone like
  20     Diane Kennington, ever be involved? She was based at
  21     the BRI; but such a person?
  22   A. I knew Diane Kennington quite well, but I do not recall
  23     any time when I was there and she was there with
  24     families. I do not remember that.
  25   Q. Just generally: you are saying "I think", "I recall".
   1     How good is your recollection of this aspect of matters?
   2   A. I could not give you names of families, for example, but
   3     I am certainly aware that there would have been times
   4     when I sat in; probably quite a few times.
   5   Q. Do you think then, looking back, that families were
   6     aware of the fact that if they chose to, they could
   7     refuse a hospital autopsy and take their child back
   8     home?
   9   A. Yes. I am fairly certain that the way that the surgeons
  10     discussed this issue, there was always a difference when
  11     the postmortem had to be carried out as opposed to not
  12     having to be carried out, and I believe that both
  13     surgeons did explain that it was not their decision;
  14     that it was a legal requirement and why that was.
  15   Q. You say in the last line you do not recollect being
  16     present when the specific issue of consent to tissue
  17     retention was raised and cannot comment on the manner in
  18     which this was discussed.
  19        Can you help as to the number of discussions you
  20     might have been involved in on postmortems?
  21   A. No, I cannot easily answer that.
  22   Q. Are we talking a handful, tens, hundreds?
  23   A. Certainly not hundreds, no. I am sorry, I do not think
  24     I can really answer that because there were a number of
  25     times when I was around when surgeons spoke to parents
   1     after a child had died and I remember, you know, them
   2     discussing the postmortem, but whether the question of
   3     tissue retention took place at the same time and I did
   4     not remember it or whether it happened at another time,
   5     I do not know. I just have a memory that I was not
   6     aware of that issue being raised.
   7   Q. Can you recollect the discussion or information that was
   8     given to parents about what physically would happen to
   9     their child during a postmortem?
  10   A. No, I cannot. No.
  11   Q. So you do not recollect any discussion of the specific
  12     issue of consent or tissue retention or the retention of
  13     organs in these discussions with surgeons?
  14   A. No, I cannot. I am afraid I cannot remember.
  15   Q. You are unable to help the Inquiry whether other
  16     discussions might have taken place?
  17   A. I am sorry, but I cannot remember.
  18   Q. If we take Jean Pratten's statement once more,
  19     WIT 269/10, if we scroll down a little, please, to the
  20     split site. She talks there about the split site being
  21     extremely hard for parents to cope with.
  22        What was your judgment as to the importance or
  23     otherwise of the split site?
  24   A. I agree with Jean Pratten. I think the split site was
  25     really quite difficult for parents to cope with, for
   1     a number of reasons. Primarily, that they had got used
   2     to the Children's Hospital and they then went to
   3     a strange building, a strange hospital, and one that was
   4     not dedicated to children. So it was not ideal.
   5   Q. Did parents ever make any comments on different quality
   6     of care at the two sites?
   7   A. I do remember parents commenting on the fact, and being,
   8     I think, aware, that this was not a paediatric
   9     environment. For example, I think some parents
  10     commented on the fact that the nursing staff were not
  11     particularly aware of feeding difficulties of, say,
  12     young children post-operatively. I cannot remember
  13     anything specific at the moment, but just a general
  14     awareness that this is not a paediatric setting.
  15        What particularly was commented on, and for some
  16     parents it was very stressful, was the first time they
  17     were shown around intensive care in Ward 5. They found
  18     that extremely difficult because it was a mixed unit
  19     with adults in it.
  20   Q. What about the nurses at the Children's Hospital? Did
  21     they make any comments about the environment at the
  22     Royal Infirmary, or comment on any differences?
  23   A. I did hear general comments about the fact that there
  24     were not paediatric nurses down on Ward 5.
  25   Q. Was it suggested that this made any difference in any
   1     way?
   2   A. I cannot comment in terms of a purely medical nature,
   3     but I did hear comments such as, I do not know, sort of
   4     general washing of children or the general sort of care
   5     of children, things like that. But not specifically
   6     about the treatment, no.
   7   Q. If we turn back to your statement momentarily,
   8     WIT 192/10, you talk there about issue N, the expression
   9     of concerns about paediatric cardiac surgery. In answer
  10     to whether or not there were any concerns expressed, you
  11     talk about a split site and whether or not that was
  12     ideal.
  13        Did you ever hear discussion of other concerns
  14     about paediatric cardiac surgery, and in particular,
  15     that the service being offered might not be of an
  16     acceptable quality?
  17   A. I heard very general comments from nurses, particularly
  18     I remember the baby unit, because quite a number of
  19     children went from Ward 5 up to the baby unit, and
  20     I think also Ward 33, which was the surgical ward.
  21        There were general comments about the children,
  22     for example, when they left the baby unit, "We do hope
  23     we see them again". So the fact that there was an
  24     awareness that children who went down for open-heart
  25     surgery might die. But I took that as being very
   1     general comments.
   2   Q. If they were concerned that children might not come back
   3     from surgery, what did you think that they thought was
   4     the reason for that?
   5   A. My understanding was that these were often extremely
   6     sick children with very complex heart conditions, and
   7     therefore there was a high risk and therefore they might
   8     not make surgery.
   9   Q. The unit had received some attention in, for instance,
  10     sources such as Private Eye. Were you aware of outside
  11     criticism being directed to it at any point?
  12   A. My first awareness of this Private Eye article -- I used
  13     to attend the catheter meetings, the clinical meetings,
  14     and there was discussion at one of them. There was
  15     a lot of I think anger and concern about what had gone
  16     into Private Eye. I did not actually -- I do not think
  17     I saw the article, but from what I understood, the
  18     suggestion was that there had been leaks of information
  19     from meetings and that someone had written up
  20     a derogatory article.
  21        My understanding of that article was that somehow
  22     someone was trying to discredit the cardiology work in
  23     Bristol and the BCH. I did not take it as being alarm
  24     bells, you know, that the standards were not good
  25     enough.
   1   Q. So was the general attitude that the article had been
   2     inaccurate in its portrayal of the unit?
   3   A. I do not think I can actually answer that. As I say,
   4     I got the impression there was a lot of anger and yes,
   5     I think that the impression was that what went in was
   6     somehow mischief-making.
   7   Q. Who gave you that impression?
   8   A. At the meeting there would have been the cardiologist
   9     and the surgeons and possibly the anaesthetist.
  10     I cannot remember. It was a general impression.
  11   Q. So you are talking, are you, about one of the clinical
  12     case conferences that would have taken place to discuss
  13     the management of particular cases which took place
  14     a certain time after one of the Private Eye articles had
  15     come out?
  16   A. No, what I was actually referring to was the meetings
  17     where they showed the results of the catheterisation.
  18     There were, I know, also audit meetings, which I did go
  19     to.
  20   Q. But you are not discussing that, you are talking about
  21     one of the clinical --
  22   A. I am sorry, I cannot remember at which meeting that
  23     would have been raised.
  24   Q. If we could go briefly back to Jean Pratten's statement,
  25     she sums up at page 11 of her statement her overall
   1     feelings about the service by saying that she felt the
   2     financing of the supporting and counselling services was
   3     inadequate and that even when posts were created by
   4     funding from the Heart Circle, they were still
   5     effectively supernumerary because they were given a low
   6     priority by the Trust management generally.
   7        Do you have any comments to make on that?
   8   A. I would not use the terminology "low priority". I can
   9     only speak personally, that I felt that particularly
  10     once Julie Vass was in place, that management and the
  11     Trust did support and was aware of counselling and
  12     support needs of families.
  13        But I am also aware -- I think I mentioned this
  14     before -- that maybe where there was not a priority was
  15     in not allowing some space within the cardiac team to
  16     make room for looking at the needs, the emotional and
  17     psychological needs of families.
  18        So I think the Trust personally did support the
  19     posts.
  20   MISS GREY: Thank you very much, Mrs Vegoda. I kept you
  21     there for quite a while. I think Mrs Mandelson may have
  22     some further questions for you.
  23           Examined by MRS MANDELSON:
  24   Q. Thank you. Really just points of clarification, if
  25     I may.
   1        At the very beginning you mentioned that you are
   2     not a member of BAC, nor an accredited counsellor
   3     through the BAC, but as a counsellor I am sure no doubt
   4     you are aware of the Code of Practice and Ethics,
   5     particularly relating to counsellors needing outside
   6     supervision, and you did say that you were aware of that
   7     in as much as you tried to talk to your colleague,
   8     a child psychotherapist, and you had sought supervision
   9     from a number of sources.
  10        Was that an issue you actually took to your
  11     manager, Julie Vass, and asked about regular formal
  12     supervision for your counselling work?
  13   A. I did not take it to Julie Vass. If I can go back
  14     a step, when I sought the support of Paul Burroughs and
  15     Madeleine Dunham, I felt that I was given adequate help
  16     in discussing the counselling work I was doing on
  17     individual families.
  18        I actually felt that certainly Madeleine Dunham
  19     was there and was available if I needed to go back to
  20     her to discuss that particular area.
  21        So if, for example, I had a family in where it was
  22     quite long-term counselling work, that she was there and
  23     she was available --
  24   Q. But on your long-term counselling work there was no
  25     regular supervision in place. You are saying you could
   1     go if you needed it but you were not availed of regular
   2     formal supervision?
   3   A. I think I have to say that the vast majority of my work
   4     was not the type of long-term, intensive counselling
   5     I would have done in my previous job. I was very aware
   6     of the difference. They were quite different in nature,
   7     so that even with long-term parents, a lot of the work
   8     would have been ongoing everyday support, rather than
   9     in-depth counsellings, and where the issues of
  10     counselling arose, or where I felt that I needed to
  11     discuss those aspects, I had enough experience to know
  12     that then I needed to go, for example, to Madeleine
  13     Dunham.
  14   Q. You did mention earlier that sometimes you did undertake
  15     bereavement counselling and sometimes that was long-term
  16     and long-term contact with families. Where would that
  17     bereavement counselling take place?
  18   A. Either in the families' home, if they lived locally, or
  19     in the hospital.
  20   Q. And that would be regular contracted contact?
  21   A. I did not actually work in that way in the specific
  22     post. In my previous post, if I can compare, because
  23     I had a counselling input in both posts, but the
  24     previous post, when I was working in a Child and Family
  25     Psychiatric Unit, was very definitely contracted
   1     sessions regularly every week for a specific time, and
   2     usually for a specific period.
   3        The work that I did in the hospital, including the
   4     bereavement counselling, was not necessarily regulated
   5     in that way. I very much was led by the family, not
   6     only what they wanted and what I felt was appropriate,
   7     but also what other support and help they would have
   8     been having.
   9   Q. Thank you. When you talked about your new job, and you
  10     are now a counsellor for all those families that would
  11     not previously have had counselling and support, you
  12     actually in passing said, "but not for the cardiac unit
  13     now". Could you just clarify for me, then, if the
  14     families from the cardiac unit need ongoing support and
  15     counselling, where they get that from?
  16   A. There is a cardiac liaison nurse in place. In fact,
  17     I think one has just left and another has just taken her
  18     place. I am not actually part of the team so I cannot
  19     answer in detail, but my understanding is that that post
  20     must be covering the needs of those families.
  21        Having said that, I am occasionally specifically
  22     asked by either nursing staff or somebody in the
  23     hospital to see a particular cardiac family, either
  24     because they have requested counselling, or because the
  25     nursing staff feel that they need more psychological
   1     emotional input that can then be provided.
   2   Q. Could you tell me, did you have a leaflet for families,
   3     giving them advice, advice to parents following the
   4     death of a child?
   5   A. It would not have been a leaflet from me, no. There was
   6     a book that was produced from our intensive care unit,
   7     and there was other literature that was given routinely
   8     to parents, and I certainly did check whether that
   9     information was given to parents, so I did not actually
  10     give a specific piece of paper to parents.
  11   Q. So there was no protocol in the sense of what would be
  12     given. So in terms of advice and literature given to
  13     a family seen by you, it might be very different to any
  14     literature given to a family that might be seen by
  15     Helen Stratton?
  16   A. I cannot answer that, because I do not actually know
  17     what literature Helen Stratton would have given the
  18     family. So I am afraid I cannot answer that. I know
  19     what I gave them.
  20   MRS MANDELSON: Thank you.
  21   THE CHAIRMAN: We have one question from the Panel.
  22     Professor Jarman?
  23            Examined by THE PANEL:
  24   PROFESSOR JARMAN: Yesterday Helen Stratton was telling us
  25     that in the last year of her work, roughly from April
   1     1983, she was under a great deal of stress. A lot of
   2     this stress was due to the fact that she was worried
   3     that operations were taking longer than average. After
   4     talking to colleagues in Bristol and Great Ormond
   5     Street, she felt that they were longer than they should
   6     have been and that possibly they were associated with
   7     higher mortality rates.
   8        She tried to talk to people about this, and one of
   9     the people was Mrs Jean Pratten, who confirmed that
  10     today.
  11        You met Helen Stratton every week, I think, and
  12     one aspect of your expertise is in communication
  13     skills. Did you detect her worries that she talked
  14     about?
  15   A. No. I was fairly amazed at the degree, which is
  16     becoming apparent now, to which she was under stress.
  17     I do not think it was that I was not aware of it; it was
  18     not shown to me. It certainly was not communicated
  19     verbally to me. I was not aware of it in her body
  20     language or how she looked or how she seemed. I know it
  21     is wrong to go back in hindsight, but I think I can only
  22     assume that some of her maybe difficulties in
  23     communicating might have been because she was under
  24     stress and perhaps felt that she could not talk to me
  25     about it. But I was not aware, no.
   1   PROFESSOR JARMAN: Thank you.
   2   THE CHAIRMAN: Just following up that question: you talk of
   3     her difficulty of communicating. If communication is
   4     a two-way process -- in part you have I think answered
   5     this, but I am asking again -- did you for your part
   6     pick up nothing from her, although you saw her so
   7     regularly?
   8   A. What I picked up from her was a very -- very personal.
   9     I did not interpret her behaviour as being a sign of
  10     stress. What I interpreted it as was a very personal
  11     antagonism to me and a lack of trust at a very, very
  12     personal and professional level. Had I picked up that
  13     there was that sort of stress, then I hope I would have
  14     responded to it.
  15   THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Whitcombe?
  16   MR WHITCOMBE: I do not have any questions, thank you, sir.
  17   THE CHAIRMAN: I am grateful to you. I repeat what
  18     Miss Grey said, Mrs Vegoda. Thank you very much for
  19     coming to talk to us this afternoon. We have kept you
  20     there a long time but it has been very helpful to us.
  21        As I say to everyone we have the advantage of
  22     talking to, if there are other matters that come to your
  23     mind that you wish to bring to our attention, or some of
  24     the matters on which you were not entirely able to
  25     recall what might be the answer, if you are able
   1     subsequently to recall an answer, then we would very
   2     much like to hear from you and you may get in touch with
   3     us at any time. But for today, thank you very much
   4     indeed.
   5            (The witness withdrew)
   6   MR LANGSTAFF: Sir, may I pick up on the last comments which
   7     you were making about the importance of those who have
   8     given evidence adding to, supplementing or clarifying
   9     the evidence which they have given after the event, if
  10     they think that is necessary.
  11        To encourage anyone who feels that that is what
  12     they should do by an example: Mrs Spicer, who gave
  13     evidence to us on Monday, has supplied today -- she came
  14     to the Inquiry personally to deliver a clarification,
  15     because she was concerned that part of the evidence
  16     which she had given did not faithfully reflect what she
  17     was trying to say. Anyone who reads her evidence should
  18     read it now subject to that clarification, which is
  19     entered as WIT 253/21, so that those who read
  20     Mrs Spicer's evidence will read it subject to that
  21     particular document.
  22        Sir, that leaves us today with Mrs Mandelson, who
  23     has been with us patiently all week: patiently, I think,
  24     from the public perception. For our part, may we
  25     express our gratitude to her for her appropriate
   1     questioning of the evidence and for her support.
   2        I wonder if she may now be asked one or two
   3     questions to summarise this week, perhaps briefly
   4     bearing in mind that this is the last public working day
   5     of our week, and may I invite her to take the
   6     affirmation?
   8            Examined by MR LANGSTAFF:
   9   Q. There are three areas that I want to explore with you,
  10     Mrs Mandelson. The first is in relation to the
  11     structures and systems which you see as having operated
  12     at Bristol during the years we are concerned with.
  13        Secondly, it is identifying from your expert
  14     perspective the nature of the services in general that
  15     were provided. Thirdly, I am going to ask you how that
  16     compared with the rest of the country at the same time.
  17        So first of all, would you like to make any
  18     comment about the nature of the structures and services
  19     that existed?
  20   A. It is very difficult in one sense, but one of the things
  21     that came to mind as I was listening was one of the
  22     phrases that is bandied about a lot at the moment in
  23     health documents that I am reading through in my own
  24     work is the phrase about "joined-up services". I think
  25     when we are talking about joined-up services, generally
   1     speaking, I think at the moment that is about health
   2     services, social services and local authority services,
   3     but I think it was the need for joined-up services
   4     within the hospital that in some sense seemed to be
   5     lacking.
   6        In terms of structure, I think it is very
   7     important when we think of the need for line management,
   8     and line management not only so that there is
   9     accountability, but there is also support and
  10     supervision of people carrying out a very difficult
  11     job. In a sense, that reflects on the service that they
  12     are able to deliver to the users of that service,
  13     because anyone who is under a great deal of pressure and
  14     stress emotionally, obviously then it is very difficult
  15     for them to question the service that they are able to
  16     deliver and to service users.
  17   Q. The structures and the systems that were in place: to
  18     what degree do you consider that the descriptions which
  19     have been given, again taking it generally, indicate
  20     a degree of isolation on the one hand, or, on the other,
  21     a degree of co-operation and co-ordination that one
  22     might expect to find in the late 1980s and early 1990s
  23     in this area?
  24   A. I think the question of isolation is one that would be
  25     quite common in a sense, because I think in the late
   1     1980s this was a fairly new area of work.
   2        I think bereavement services, bereavement support,
   3     counselling, was something that people certainly in the
   4     mid-1980s, they were doing as part of their work rather
   5     than being specifically employed in that position. It
   6     was an add-on; it was an extra. I think there were
   7     a lot of people working very hard to raise awareness
   8     around the issues and the needs of bereaved families and
   9     bereaved parents, and I think with that push, we have
  10     seen the development of some of these dedicated posts,
  11     but very often, in a hospital you might just get one
  12     person doing that.
  13        So what needs to happen, and is absolutely crucial
  14     in those circumstances, is peer support and peer
  15     co-operation that that person needs to fit into part of
  16     a team, because I think it is very important, when we
  17     talk about support for families, we are not talking
  18     about just the support that the family gets at the end;
  19     it is part of a continuum of care.
  20        There has been a lot of discussion over these last
  21     few days, and I guess some confusion around the terms
  22     "support" and "counselling" and I think they are
  23     different. I am not saying one is better than the
  24     other; I think in some ways they are different. I think
  25     that also we are talking about people using counselling
   1     skills and that what we need to see developed is
   2     a system where people work together on this continuum
   3     where we may have nurses who have training and
   4     counselling skills, health professionals, that would be
   5     using those skills to support families and to support
   6     parents. Then you might have the more specialist
   7     workers, the nurse specialists, family support workers,
   8     who would be able to offer more to families, and then,
   9     if families need it, there would be counselling
  10     available, if that is what families need and choose.
  11        People have talked also about families being able
  12     to make choices. They need to be informed choices, but
  13     also, they can only make choices if the services are
  14     there for them as well, and opt into counselling, if
  15     that is what they want.
  16   Q. When you distinguish between "support" on the one hand
  17     and "counselling" on the other, what definition do you
  18     give those terms?
  19   A. I think "support" is about some of the skills that
  20     people have used: listening skills, empathy, being
  21     alongside a person at a time of great emotional stress
  22     and distress.
  23        For me, "counselling" is something on a deeper
  24     level. I still see it as something that is more formal,
  25     that is something that is entered into with the person
   1     who is the parent or the family, or the client, whatever
   2     term you want to use.
   3        Bereavement counselling actually provides a means
   4     of expressing grief in a much deeper way, and working on
   5     some of the tasks of mourning, facing the reality of the
   6     loss, perhaps experiencing the pain of that loss, and
   7     working with families in adjusting to daily existence
   8     without a very much-loved child and all the stresses
   9     that that might bring in terms of family stress, marital
  10     stress, self-esteem; and, I guess, working with
  11     families, helping them find future direction and reason
  12     for living and going on. I think if you see that as
  13     what I would term as bereavement counselling, then you
  14     see that as a different task, I guess, than supporting
  15     families through very difficult times, of critical times
  16     and critical stress.
  17   Q. You have answered, I think, or explored the first two
  18     areas, albeit briefly, that I addressed to you. The
  19     third, the question how did the services and systems
  20     that operated as you see it, having listened to the
  21     evidence at Bristol, compare with those that one might
  22     have expected to find in the rest of the country at the
  23     time?
  24   A. I have already touched on the fact that I think
  25     certainly in the late 1980s, people were becoming very
   1     much more aware of the needs of families, and I guess
   2     trying to take a much more holistic approach to health
   3     and a greater understanding of the relationship between
   4     emotional and physical well-being.
   5        I was aware at that time of working parties,
   6     certainly within the hospital that I am part of, another
   7     establishment looking at developing bereavement
   8     services. I think in the main, as I have already said,
   9     it was about individuals working. The centre of which
  10     I am a part opened in 1988 and at the time was the first
  11     centre of its kind in the country, and as such received
  12     a lot of media attention, received a lot of attention
  13     from people working in this field. We have already
  14     heard Helen Vegoda say she paid a visit to the Alder Hey
  15     Centre. It seems a centre of excellence. I guess that
  16     reflects on what is not around in the rest of the
  17     country, perhaps even today, although certainly in the
  18     last ten years I think there have been great strides in
  19     trying to establish bereavement support as an integral
  20     part in many ways of services available to families.
  21   Q. So there was not much around in 1988, is what you are
  22     saying, when the Alder Hey Centre started, and 1988 when
  23     Helen Vegoda began on her own at the Bristol hospitals.
  24     By the time that Helen Stratton left in early 1994, was
  25     it fairly common to find structures for support and
   1     counselling in most critical units?
   2   A. Of one kind or another, I think it is undertaken by
   3     different disciplines. You may well find in some
   4     hospitals still it would be specialist social workers;
   5     in Leeds, certainly, there are structures that I am
   6     aware of through their Accident and Emergency Department
   7     doing a lot of work on bereavement support. So I would
   8     say that by then, not only were there structures
   9     locally, but certainly there were lots of networks
  10     nationally for people working in this area of work,
  11     National Association of Bereavement Services,
  12     et cetera.
  13   MR LANGSTAFF: I do not know, sir, whether the Panel may
  14     have any questions for Mrs Mandelson?
  15   A. Could I add one point? One of the things that I feel is
  16     very important and I did not mention is the need for
  17     protocols. I think it is so easy for people and
  18     families to fall through the gap, certainly when there
  19     are lots of families, lots of demands on services and
  20     resources are scarce. We need to ensure that there are
  21     protocols in place for referral, from management of
  22     referral systems, et cetera, to try and make sure that
  23     happens as little as possible.
  24   MR LANGSTAFF: In your case, Mrs Mandelson, I shall not
  25     extend the usual invitation to supplement if you feel
   1     like it after today, because in your case the
   2     Secretariat will undoubtedly be in touch with a request
   3     that you should do so should it be thought of further
   4     assistance to the Panel. But may I for my part thank
   5     you very much for everything that you have done?
   6   THE CHAIRMAN: Before I add my thanks and those of the
   7     Panel, I did have one question which I was going to
   8     interject.
   9        Mr Langstaff will tell me whether it is
  10     appropriate for you to respond or not.
  11             Examined by THE PANEL:
  12   THE CHAIRMAN: I was just wondering if you could make
  13     a general comment from your experience: if you find
  14     professionals who are not seeing eye to eye when both
  15     exist for the service of others, how would that
  16     ordinarily have been managed, in your experience,
  17     bearing in mind your reminder of the ethics of the
  18     profession they both are part of?
  19   A. I would think, like many other professionals, one would
  20     have hoped that it was something that they would have
  21     felt able to address at local level, if you like, but
  22     then someone else perhaps to facilitate, to look with
  23     them at what was going on. I mean, people not seeing
  24     eye to eye is not unusual, I guess, in all walks of
  25     life, in all professions, but you would hope that when
   1     people are dealing with emotion and communication, that
   2     they would be able to call on someone. That was a part
   3     of my thoughts around supervision and management, that
   4     this would be something that would be able to be
   5     addressed with a third party that would be able to sit
   6     down and work with them, and that in that profession,
   7     they would have been very willing to have done that.
   8   MR LANGSTAFF: Can I just pick up on that question, sir? If
   9     one is looking at it as a management issue, the question
  10     might be asked whether the intervention should come
  11     sooner or later. How soon would you expect it to come
  12     if the signs were there that people were beginning not
  13     to get on well?
  14   A. The sooner the better.
  15   THE CHAIRMAN: Mrs Mandelson, I know what a help you have
  16     been to counsel and others. You have been a very great
  17     help to us. Your very presence sitting there is to
  18     a degree reassuring. What you had to say at the end,
  19     although relatively brief, has been extremely helpful
  20     for us, showing insights we will be able to take away
  21     and discuss.
  22        So we are very grateful to you for having given
  23     your time, spending your time here in Bristol. I know
  24     that there may be further calls on your time
  25     subsequently, but for today and now, we are very
   1     grateful. Thank you very much indeed.
   2        Mr Langstaff?
   3   MR LANGSTAFF: Sir, on Monday it is Sir Donald Irvine from
   4     the General Medical Council. He is followed by a week
   5     during which we will listen to expert clinicians who
   6     together and in, as it were, seminar format, which we
   7     are now I think familiar with, will tell us about the
   8     risks and procedures, diagnoses and descriptions of the
   9     various conditions about which we will hear more.
  10   THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Langstaff. We meet again at
  11     10.30, since it is Monday. Until then, therefore, good
  12     afternoon to everyone and thank you again, Miss Grey and
  13     Mr Langstaff.
  14   (4.10 pm)
  15     (Adjourned until 10.30 am on Monday 13th September 1999)
   2                I N D E X
   4     MRS JEAN PRATTEN (Sworn)
   5        Examined by MR MACLEAN ...................... 1
   6        Examined by THE PANEL ....................... 78
   8     MRS HELEN VEGODA (Sworn)
   9        Examined by MISS GREY ....................... 84
  10        Examined by MRS MANDELSON ................... 169
  11        Examined by THE PANEL ....................... 173
  13     MRS VALERIE MANDELSON (Affirmed)
  14        Examined by MR LANGSTAFF .................... 177
  15        Examined by THE PANEL ....................... 184

Published by the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry, July 2001
Crown Copyright 2001