I welcome health secretary Frank Dobson's announcement of a public inquiry into the tragic deaths of the children 'cared' for at Bristol Royal Infirmary. I have a number of reservations, which I hope will be part of the inquiry, although I have no great faith that they will be.

While the General Medical Council has found the doctors concerned guilty of misconduct, they did not act alone. No surgeon operates and cares for patients before, during and after an operation without the intensive support and skills of other health professionals - nurses and physiotherapists especially.

Clinical audit aims to show which practices work best for the patient, whether those practices are the remit of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists or anaesthetists. No single profession - and I include managers - comes out of this sorry mess with any merit, even if individuals (like the anaesthetist who left to go to Australia) do.

Mr Dobson's inquiry should be complemented by a similar inquiry by the professional body for nurses, the UK Central Council. Nurses are making increasing claims to autonomy and to be in the vanguard of clinical effectiveness.

Why did they not blow the whistle?

Christopher Maggs

Professor of nursing

Staffordshire University

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