Hospital staff and patients may be forced to give evidence at a second inquiry into alleged care failures at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust, and particularly Stafford Hospital.
It follows findings by the Healthcare Commission that between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected between 2005 and 2008.
Health secretary Andy Burnham has said that the second inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, will hear evidence from patients and families and identify lessons for the future.
Trust staff, including former managers, will be expected to give evidence. A Department of Health spokesman said that if Mr Francis needs the power to require witnesses to attend, the Government can give him that power using the Inquiries Act 2005.
Mr Burnham said: ‘The hospital and primary care trust must listen to patients and local people and involve them in shaping the future of the hospital.
‘This new independent inquiry will give patients and their families the opportunity to present their evidence and ensure that any other lessons are learned without unduly distracting the new management and staff at the hospital from improving services for patients today.’