The government has announced a public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust scandal.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley also told the Commons today he would immediately move to introduce more protection for NHS whistleblowers.
He said Robert Francis QC, the barrister who chaired a inquiry into the trusts’ failures which reported earlier this year, would chair the new inquiry. Mr Francis will choose a panel and report by March next year.
Mr Lansley said the terms of the inquiry should “not go over ground already covered” in the first Francis inquiry, but focus on how the appalling care at Stafford Hospital was not prevented by the rest of the system.
It will have a legal basis and will have greater power to call witnesses and make recommendations than the previous inquiry, he said.
This will mean a focus on commissioners in the area, strategic health authorities – including NHS West Midlands which was run for a period by Care Quality Commission chief executive Cynthia Bower – and regulators including the CQC, Monitor, General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council.
“I am confident after the inquiry we will be able to discuss conclusions rather than just questions and will be able to show we are taking every step to ensure it is never allowed to happen again.”
Mr Lansley said improvements were being made at the trust and its work should not be disrupted by the inquiry.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said Labour would cooperate with the inquiry but questioned how it differed from his earlier proposal of a second Francis inquiry, but without the same legal basis.
Mr Lansley announced the government would move before the inquiry to put a term into the contracts of NHS staff to give them a right to raise concerns in the public interest.
It will look at other changes including a new authority which staff can turn to with complaints about their employer.