A consultant struck off for his role in the Bristol babies' heart surgery deaths claimed this week that he had been over-worked and under-funded.

James Wisheart told the Bristol Royal Infirmary inquiry that 'going to the operating theatre was my refuge' from an excessive clinical workload and four different management roles.

Mr Wisheart combined a post as consultant surgeon with work as medical director, associate clinical director, chair of the hospital medical committee and membership of other committees.

He told the inquiry that during the period under investigation, the cardiac surgery department faced severe difficulties in recruiting a fourth consultant and found it impossible to recruit a chair of paediatric cardiac surgery.

Waiting lists of 'unacceptable length' meant children were waiting up to a year for their operations, even though an increasing number of procedures were carried out.

'Although we were running faster and faster we never actually caught up, ' he told the inquiry.