Hospitals are braced for tough criticism over thousands of needless deaths in a key report next week.
NHS medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh is set to detail failings at 14 trusts in England thought to have had “excess” death rates going back years.
He is expected to describe poor care, medical errors and management blunders, suggesting that the Stafford hospital scandal was not a one-off.
Tories are likely to seize on the findings - due to be published on Tuesday - to attack Labour’s handling of the health service.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham was in charge of the NHS between June 2009 and May 2010.
David Cameron commissioned the report in February after Robert Francis QC’s inquiry into the Stafford scandal exposed appalling lapses in both care of patients and the regulation of hospitals.
Sir Bruce has been examining 14 hospital trusts that have been outliers on mortality indexes over the last two years.
He also examined infection levels, the number of patients suffering from preventable and potentially fatal neglect and numbers of so-called “never events”, such as operations on the wrong part of the body or surgical instruments left inside a patient, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Between them, the 14 hospitals have paid £234m in negligence settlements in the past three years, although many of the cases will date back far longer as the legal battles often take several years, the newspaper added.
The 14 hospital trusts are: Basildon and Thurrock in Essex; United Lincolnshire; Blackpool; The Dudley Group, West Midlands; George Eliot, Warwickshire; Northern Lincolnshire and Goole; Tameside, Greater Manchester; Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Colchester, Essex; Medway, Kent; Burton, Staffordshire; North Cumbria; East Lancashire; and Buckinghamshire Healthcare.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We are not prepared to speculate about the contents of Sir Bruce’s review, or our response to it. We’ve shown consistently that we expect the NHS to be accountable where things go wrong.
“That is why the Prime Minister ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of these issues.”
Mr Burnham told the Sky News Murnaghan programme he would account for all decisions he made in office and defended his record.
The shadow health secretary said he had left warning about a number of hospitals when he left office but that several of the hospitals involved had deteriorated since the coalition took over.
He said: “I will account for all of the things I did as secretary of state. I took actions to reveal what happened at Stafford, I took actions at Basildon, at Tameside, I left warnings in place on five hospitals.
“The Conservative Party briefed this week they were wanting to target me personally. That is what they are wanting to do.
“The Francis Report looked at these matters in detail, it looked at the papers of the last government, and it said no minister did anything wrong… that was the Francis Report. Why is it being re-written now?
“If there is evidence, bring it forward and I will answer it - but I have accounted for my actions and I will continue to do so. But I will also point out what’s happening to the NHS on this government’s watch.
“It has gone downhill. Problems at these hospitals have got worse. That is the reality. We had a reorganisation that completely distracted the whole NHS from these issues and that is what I will bring to the attention of the House of Commons on Wednesday when I ask it to endorse early implementation of the Francis Report.”
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