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Stafford scandal inquiry calls for patient-centred NHS

Managers in the NHS who deceive over standards of care should face prosecution
By
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
uk hospital room

6th February 2013 - Medical staff and managers should be prosecuted if they break a new legal duty of 'candour', requiring them to be open and honest with patients and healthcare regulators, says a new report.

The second inquiry into appalling standards of care at Stafford Hospital was set up to see whether wider lessons could be learned about what went wrong at the hospital where hundreds of people are thought to have died needlessly because of abuse and neglect.

The chair of the public inquiry, Robert Francis QC, found that patients were let down by health regulators as well as NHS managers and staff.

The board at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was found to be weak, but Mr Francis also identifies failures by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), the strategic health authorities, the Healthcare Commission, the regulator Monitor, the Department of Health and other bodies.

"This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people," Mr Francis told a press conference at Westminster today. "They were failed by a system which ignored the warning signs and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety."

The prime minister David Cameron has responded by apologising to the families of patients affected by the scandal and has promised that a new post of chief inspector of hospitals will be created later this year.

So, what did the latest inquiry find, what did it recommend and how have people reacted to it? Read our FAQs.

Haven't we already had a report into what happened at Stafford?

The first report by Robert Francis QC, published in 2010, was an independent report under the NHS Act which examined the poor quality of care and inadequate staffing levels at Stafford hospital.

The public inquiry, which began later that year under his chairmanship, was asked to scrutinise how the various health commissioning and supervisory bodies acted between January 2005 and March 2009 and look at why problems at Stafford were not identified earlier and appropriate action taken.

The role of the Department of Health, the local Strategic Health Authority, the local Primary Care Trust, the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts (Monitor), the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Safety Executive were all to be examined.

What did the first report find about care?

The first Francis report found that a culture of targets and cost cutting had led to a situation at Stafford Hospital where regulators discovered how patients were forced to endure "unimaginable distress and suffering" and were left "sobbing and humiliated".

Medicines were prescribed but not given to patients while others were left to urinate or defecate in their bedding after their appeals for help in going to the toilet were ignored.

Hygiene standards were poor, nutrition standards inadequate, and some patients were left thirsty.

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