Bristol inquiry

It was a quiet day at the inquiry's north Devon remote office in Barnstaple, but local community health council secretary Linda Stapleton was still keen to emphasise the importance of making the live hearings available. 'The general view of the public is that the NHS is trying to hide something. Therefore, to be as open as they (the inquiry team) possibly can be is really worthwhile and certainly, from what I can see, they have been,' she says.

North Devon CHC's office is one of three remote sites selected by the inquiry to receive live transmissions of the inquiry proceedings and related documents. The others are in Truro and Cardiff.

The exercise has required great effort from the CHC. It has given up its meeting room for the duration of the inquiry to house the screens and seating for the public. CHC members have put their names down on a rota so that someone is always around to greet people who wish to watch the inquiry and guide them round the office. Staff have given priority to remote office tasks, including local publicity, organising the members' rota and monitoring the inquiry.

On the day HSJ visits, no one has shown up to observe the hearing, although three had attended the day before to watch former United Bristol Healthcare trust chief executive Dr John Roylance's evidence.

The CHC is trying to monitor attendance without being intrusive. 'We're not going to ask people questions, because they can come and go as they want. We do ask them to sign in and give their postcode, but the latter is optional,' says Ms Stapleton.

The CHC is also encouraging members to discuss the inquiry with their friends, relatives and voluntary groups. The local legal firm is distributing information to the 300 people it represents, and the local media has given good coverage.