The inquiry opened formally on 28 October 1998, with oral hearings starting on 16 March 1999. It is due to report in summer 2000. There are two phases. The first and longest will look at the management of children receiving complex heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary between 1984 and 1995. The second, early next year, will explore the wider lessons of the case. The first phase is divided into six blocks:
how Bristol services were set up and managed;
the management of the children's care, including pre-operative preparation, surgery, post-operative care, post-mortems and dealings with parents;
the adequacy of the service, including staff training, informed consent and clinical audit;
concerns about surgery at the hospital between 1984 and 1995 and any failure to take action appropriately;
the national picture - evidence from government departments, supra-regional services, royal colleges and professional organisations.
The format of the second phase will be announced shortly.