Global Focus: United Kingdom

Dr Foster was founded as a result of the events at one department of one hospital in the 1980s and 1990s. The story of how heart surgeons at the Bristol Royal Infirmary carried out operations on infants without the necessary skills resulting in a number of children dying is well known. Less well known is the role that Professor Sir Brian Jarman and Professor Paul Aylin played in demonstrating how the evidence of this tragedy was available to people at the time if they had only looked.

The hospital had been accurately recording each child admitted to the hospital, the treatment they received and whether or not they survived their treatment. By comparing these figures with every other hospital in the country they were able to illustrate in stark terms just how damaging the failings in care had been to patients. In 2000, shortly before the final report of the public inquiry into Bristol was published, Dr Foster was formed by bringing together academics at Imperial College with journalists and web engineers to bring greater transparency to variations in care.


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  • Continental Europe

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