Dr Stephen Bolsin, the anaesthetist credited with uncovering the Bristol Royal Infirmary tragedy, took the stand this week at the public inquiry into the deaths of babies who underwent heart surgery at the hospital.

He told the inquiry that he raised concerns as early as 1990, in a letter to then general manager, Dr John Roylance, which also dealt with aspects of the hospital's application for trust status.

He said Dr Roylance called him about the aspects of his letter dealing with the trust application, while Dean Hart, chair of the hospital medical committee, met him to say 'do not get involved in this sort of thing'. He also said disgraced surgeon James Wisheart 'made it quite clear to me this was not the way I should carry on'.

Both Mr Wisheart and Mr Hart say they do not remember the meetings.

He agreed that he had never shown his audit material to Mr Wisheart nor confronted him with his concerns, giving 'flak from the letter' as the reason.

Introducing four days of evidence, Dr Bolsin confirmed to inquiry counsel Brian Langstaff QC that he had explored payment for constructive dismissal with United Bristol Healthcare trust chief executive Hugh Ross, after accepting a post in Australia. He denied that he had threatened to 'go public' if he did not receive the money.

Dr Bolsin was also asked why he had said in a lecture that managers had been reluctant to suspend paediatric cardiac operations because this would have 'cost the unit a considerable amount of top-sliced funding'. Dr Bolsin said he had once discussed the idea with director of anaesthesia Chris Monk, using the analogy that 'this was a train that occasional passengers were falling off, but the train had to keep moving. . . in order to attract the funding'.

Mr Langstaff asked whether he was basically 'relying on what other people have said to you', to which Dr Bolsin said, 'Yes'.