Dr John Roylance has told the Bristol Royal Infirmary inquiry that he did not investigate concerns about mortality rates in paediatric cardiac surgery because they were raised in connection with the hospital's application for trust status.

Dr Roylance, former chief executive of United Bristol Healthcare trust, said the first time he was aware of a disagreement between cardiologists and anaesthetists about death rates was in January 1995. He said this week that whistleblower Dr Stephen Bolsin sent him a letter in 1990 claiming paediatric death rates were 'among the highest in the country', but he felt the claim was an exaggeration to produce extra funding. The final paragraph of Dr Bolsin's letter asked if his concerns would be addressed by the hospital becoming a trust.

When asked why he did not investigate death rates, Dr Roylance said: 'Because we were discussing trust status, not figures within paediatric cardiac surgery.'