Heart baby mum returns to Bristol hospital for protest on 20th anniversary of daughter's birth
The mother of a baby who died during the Bristol Heart Scandal in the 90s is protesting outside the children's hospital over her concerns about the care of young cardiac patients.
Marie Edwards, whose daughter Jazmine would have turned 20 today, believes the lessons of the original inquiry into the deaths of babies after heart surgery in the 80s and 90s have still not been learned.
She returned to the purpose-built Bristol Children's Hospital, which was built as part of the solution to the problems of the 80s and 90s, this morning to hold a peaceful protest.
As previously reported in The Post parents and the health regulator have raised concerns about the care of patients on a ward for children who have undergone heart surgery this year.
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The Care Quality Commission reported that staffing levels on the ward were not high enough to meet the high dependency care required by some of the patients after heart surgery.
The hospital took the move to reduce the number of cardiac operations it was carrying out while it worked on providing a dedicated high dependency unit.
Marie Edwards set up the Fragile Angels support group for families in the wake of the Bristol Baby Heart Scandal and has been campaigning for better audits of heart surgery ever since.
She fears that until "real-time" audits of surgical procedures are not available parents cannot make informed decisions about where their children have heart operations.
Ms Edwards, 44, said she had not taken the decision to return to the hospital on the anniversary of her daughter's birth "lightly" but felt it was necessary to highlight her concerns about the care of heart surgery patients.
"I don't take lightly coming here today from my own emotional point of view and striking out the message that this hospital is not safe," she said.
"It isn't somewhere I wanted to be or foresaw myself being after having endured a public inquiry and the Kennedy report.
"I am amazed, astounded and horrified that this is still going on.
"They have amazing surgery but it is the care that is an issue."
Robert Woolley, chief executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, which runs the Bristol Royal Infirmary and children's hospital, said: "All paediatric cardiac surgery carries with it significant risk and these risks are explained to parents.
"Despite these risks and the complex needs of the children we care for, we have results among the best in England. "A comparative outcomes assessment for 2000-2008 undertaken as part of a recent Safe & Sustainable review showed that the Bristol service has the third best mortality rates when mortality rates are compared between the eleven current surgical centres in England.
"Mortality figures for 2007-2010 show that the Bristol centre had a 1.6 per cent mortality rate for surgical procedures in the under one year age group and 1 per cent in the one to 15 year old age group.
"Since 2009, a national review of children's congenital heart services has taken place which rigorously assessed the quality of care in existing centres.
"In July of this year, it was announced that the Bristol children's hospital will be designated as one of seven specialist surgical centres in England."