Letters

Three excellent letters on the Bristol inquiry (letters, 9 August), exhibiting common sense and understanding of the seriousness of it all, will doubtless end up in the pile marked 'meddling drumbangers'.

As someone who has investigated allegations of serious professional misconduct while working for the General Medical Council's solicitors - and more recently, allegations of research misconduct in the context of pharmaceutical trials - I despair at the NHS's failure to cope with problems. When will it finally sink in that there must be effective quality assurance, sensible disciplinary procedures, a competent and fair investigative process and a credible and reliable mechanism for whistleblowers? The system is corrupt and it is grossly damaging for the majority who are dedicated, yet struggle on against the odds, becoming more and more demoralised.

And the patients? They are part of this, too, or do you sometimes forget?

In conversation with a senior NHS figure recently, I commented on the new research governance paper - an excellent document but for one omission.

There is no procedure in place for positive action when research fraud or misconduct are suspected. The response was to criticise me for being negative and failing to focus on the paper's positive aspects.

It is the same old story - the absence of a plan to cope with a major problem will ultimately destroy the original objective.

Peter Jay Chief executive MedicoLegal Investigations Ltd Knebworth Herts