Frequently Asked Questions


Independent Review of Children’s Cardiac Services in Bristol

  1. How long are you expecting the Review to take?
  2. What are the terms of reference for the Review? Who set them?
  3. Who will be publishing the Report?
  4. Why does the Review only cover the period from March 2010 onwards?
  5. Who can submit evidence?
  6. What input have the families had?
  7. Is emotional support being offered to familes who participate in the Review?
  8. Can staff from the Trust submit evidence?
  9. Are you having open hearings?
  10. Will evidence submitted to the Review be published? Can anonymity be assured?
  11. To what extent will you be relying on the clinical notes kept by the Trust?
  12. How much will the Review cost? Who is paying for it?
  13. I'm a journalist. How do I contact the Review team?
  14. I’d still like to submit evidence. How do I do that?
  15. What is the relevance of Coroner's inquests into the deaths of children who received cardiac services in Bristol?
  16. How does the Bristol Review relate to the NHS England Congenital Heart Review?
  17. What input have families had?


How long are you expecting the Review to take?

The Review will be carried out with all due speed, but we are determined to ensure it is thorough.  We are currently expecting to complete our work by Spring 2016.

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What are the terms of reference for the Review? Who set them?

The Review has been commissioned by NHS England, which also set the terms of reference. NHS England is the NHS body responsible for commissioning the service. The terms of reference were drafted after discussions with a number of families who expressed concerns about children's cardiac services at Bristol to Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England. The terms of reference are available here (PDF).

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Who will be publishing the report?

The Review will publish the report on the Review’s website. We will give further information about the process for publication and how families and others interested in the Review can receive a copy of the report nearer the time.

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Why does the Review only cover the period from March 2010 onwards?

In March 2010 new standards for quality and safety were published by the National Specialised Commissioning Group. The Review will examine events from this point, so that we will be able to see the impact that this framework has had. But while we will be focussing on the service at Bristol from March 2010, we recognise that events leading up to then may be relevant to our work. We are happy to receive information about earlier events, so that we can assess it further.  

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Who can submit evidence?

From the outset we have encouraged anyone who believes that they have relevant information about children’s cardiac services in Bristol and its outreach services to make contact with us. We have received over 250 submissions from families and others. We closed this process of evidence taking from the 7th September 2015 as we move to the next stage of the Review.

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What input have families had?

The Review was established by NHS England following requests for an investigation from a number of families whose children had received treatment in Bristol. The terms of reference were developed after discussion with those families. The Review team is keen that they, together with any other families who have had experience of the children's cardiac services at Bristol, submit evidence to the Review.

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Is emotional support being offered to the families who participate in the Review?

We understand that participating in the Review may be difficult and upsetting. All of the families who participate will be offered emotional support from a professional organisation. This will be provided at no cost to them, as part of national health services. Familes who wish to find out more about this should contact the Review team through enquiries@thebristolreview.co.uk.

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Can staff from the Trust submit evidence?

Of course; we are keen to receive evidence from staff in the same way as everybody else and will be inviting staff from the Trust to contribute.

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Are you having open hearings?

No. This is a Review into sensitive issues and we want to help witnesses give evidence freely in the most supportive environment possible. For this reason, evidence will be taken in private.

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To what extent will you be relying on the clinical notes kept by the Trust?

Clinical notes will form only one part of the evidence explored. The Review team is particularly keen to hear the first hand experiences of relatives and staff at the Trust and these will be at the heart of the Review process.

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Will evidence submitted to the Review be published?  Can anonymity be assured?

The Review will produce a report of its findings and any recommendations, but we will seek to respect requests for confidentiality and anonymity from families and carers, as well as junior members of staff.   

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How much will the Review cost? Who is paying for it?

The Review has been commissioned by NHS England, which will pay for it.  The cost will be published when the Review has been concluded.

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Im a journalist. How do I contact the Review team?

For media enquiries please telephone 020 7618 9116 or email bristol@luther.co.uk.

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Id still like to submit evidence. How do I do that?

We have now closed general evidence taking. However if anyone still wishes to submit information the Review will consider it and decide what action is needed. Initial information may be submitted by emailing enquiries@thebristolreview.co.uk. Guidance on the essential details and the format we need is available here for family members and here for staff.

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What is the relevance of Coroner's inquests into the deaths of children who received cardiac services in Bristol ?

The Review is not in a position to examine the process of any Coroner’s inquest and would not be appropriate to do so; the Coroner is an independent judicial officer. Equally, the Review is not bound by any evidence given at inquests or by their conclusions. The Review manages its own investigation, shaped by its terms of reference. The Review will consider as wide a range of information relating to children's cardiac services in Bristol as possible. This may include evidence prepared for the purpose of any inquest or heard at one; but like any other form of information, this would be considered in the light of all the evidence received, and the Review must reach its own independent conclusions on all that it has seen, heard and read. If recommendations were made to the Trust by the Coroner, the Review would wish to explore the nature of the Trust's response to those recommendations.

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How does the Bristol Review relate to the NHS England Congenital Heart Review?

NHS England is currently undertaking a national review of congenital heart services for children and adults, covering services across England including at Bristol Children’s Hospital. It has recently made a series of recommendations regarding a model of care, standards and service specifications, earlier diagnosis and better information to NHS England.

The Bristol Review is independent of the Congenital Heart Review and has separate Terms of Reference (available on this website here). Within our terms of reference, the Review Team may consider the recommendations made by the Congenital Heart Review as these would fall within the “other relevant recommendations for change or improvement” referred to in paragraph 5(a).

The Bristol Review’s primary focus, as set out in our Terms of Reference, is to consider the environment of care, communication, care and compassion and the culture of the Trust at Bristol Children’s Hospital, rather than service design, which is the main focus of the Congenital Heart Review. Whilst there is some overlap in terms of areas of interest, the two Reviews have worked independently of each other.

You can find out further information about the NHS England Congenital Heart Review here.

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What input have families had?

The Review was established by NHS England following requests for an investigation from a number of families whose children had received treatment in Bristol. The terms of reference were developed after discussion with those families.  

A call for evidence to all families whose children had received treatment at the hospital was then made in summer 2014.  It has led to the review hearing from 240 families in total about their experience of the children's cardiac services at Bristol. The information received from all these participants, and the questions they have asked, is shaping the further work of the Review.

We are always happy to speak to families, and other participants, and explain what the Review is doing.

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