Bristol Heart Children

In recent years, we have been heavily engaged in the legal issues that have arisen following the well publicised allegations of substandard paediatric cardiac surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Our involvement in this issue has included a wide variety of tasks, more details of which are given below.

Public Inquiry

Michelmores were joint lead solicitors to the Bristol Heart Children Action Group, a group of more than 300 families whose children had lost their lives or been seriously damaged following heart surgery in Bristol.

We helped gather evidence for the Inquiry, taking witness statements from the BHCAG's members.  We also represented the group at the Inquiry's hearings, providing support for the group members who gave oral testimony, and ensuring that the group's interests were reflected in the proceedings.  We liaised with the Inquiry's lawyers, to make sure that the questions to which the BHCAG's members wanted answers were asked.  We helped to draft the group's written submissions to the Inquiry, which were required at the conclusion of the hearings. An archive of the documents we produced is available here.

We also helped to keep the BHCAG's membership informed of the Inquiry's progress, providing regular written updates, and summaries of the evidence that had been heard. 

Civil Litigation (Claims for Medical Negligence)

We have been involved in (and, in some cases, continue to pursue) a large number of claims for compensation against the Bristol health authorities.  We have handled 34 claims arising from the death of children following heart surgery in Bristol; so far, we have obtained settlements in 21 of these, and we are hopeful that we shall be able to secure several more.  Alongside these cases, we are pursuing a number of claims on behalf of children who survived heart surgery at Bristol, but suffered neurological damage in the process.  These are challenging claims, which seek high levels of damages, because they aim to secure adequate compensation for some horrendous injuries so that the affected children can be provided with the care they need for the rest of their lives.

Organ Retention

As you may know, the practice of retaining organs without consent during post-mortem examinations was first exposed during the Bristol Inquiry.  As a result, we have been involved in the legal ramifications of this issue from the outset.  We have assisted our clients in making submissions on the subject to various public bodies and authorities, including extensive involvement in the Chief Medical Officer's review of the issue.

We also represent a number of families who are pursuing legal action against the NHS Trusts that retained their relatives' organs without their consent.  These cases are part of a nationwide "multi-party action" in which several different firms of solicitors are involved.

If you would like any more information about any of these subjects - or anything else to do with the Bristol Heart cases - please feel free to get in touch.