It is “not acceptable” that no one has been held accountable for the neglect of patients in the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, prime minister David Cameron said on Monday night.
Mr Cameron said that any decision over criminal investigations and prosecutions was a matter for independent authorities and not politicians.
But he made clear that he wants them to consider what their response should be to the mountains of evidence in last week’s Francis Report, of “appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of patients” at Mid Staffordshire between 2005 and 2009.
Speaking during a visit to India, Mr Cameron said: “It is not an acceptable situation, as I said in my statement to the Commons.
“One of the important points about the Mid-Staffordshire inquiry is to make sure, when a failure like this takes place, there is proper accountability.
“There hasn’t been in this case and we need to put it right.”
He added: “The Prime Minister can’t be responsible for ordering prosecutions. There are independent prosecuting authorities and independent police investigations.
“The Mid-Staffordshire inquiry has made available huge amounts of information and it is for others to consider what that means for them.”
Mr Cameron said that one consequence of the report would be a “more accountable” health service in future.
But he left little doubt of his frustration at the fact that individuals have yet to be held personally to account for what went wrong.
“In the report, you can see exactly what happened to the people who were involved,” he said.
“Some of them were allowed to retire, some were allowed to move within the health service.
“There wasn’t proper accountability, there wasn’t proper consequences and that is not acceptable.”
Mr Cameron gave his support to health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s warning to NHS bodies not to use gagging clauses to silence staff members who try to “blow the whistle” on mistreatment of patients.
In a letter to the chairmen of every trust, the health secretary has warned against a culture in some quarters of “institutional self defence that prevents honest acknowledgement of failure”.
In order to avoid a repeat of the Mid Staffordshire scandal it was vital to “recognise and celebrate staff” who had the “courage and professional integrity” to speak out over safety concerns, suggested Mr Hunt.
Mr Cameron said: “I agree with what Jeremy Hunt has said. I think it is important.
“We shouldn’t need to rely on whistle blowers in the NHS. We should be discovering problems much more swiftly. That’s what the transparency agenda is about, that’s what the friends and family scheme is about, that’s what the Chief Inspector of Hospitals is about.”