The long awaited final report of the public inquiry into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is set to be further delayed, Nursing Times has learnt.
Several senior sources, including at the Department of Health, said they expected chair Robert Francis QC would now not deliver his report to the government until after the October 15 date announced by Mr Francis in April this year.
One source said there was speculation at a senior level that the report may be delayed significantly, until late in the year or early next year, although the new timing is unconfirmed.
It follows several earlier delays to the report, which is expected to have dramatic implications for the NHS and senior health service leaders.
Nursing Times understands some warning letters were only sent to individuals the inquiry intends to criticise in the last two weeks. It was orginally hoped the confidential letters, which Mr Francis is obliged to send out under the rules governing public inquiries, would be sent in July. That was subsequently delayed to August.
It is believed those who have received letters are under strict instructions to keep their contents confidential.
A lawyer working for one of the organisations classed as a core participant to the inquiry, commenting on the delay, told HSJ it was “unusual” for there to be a delay once the letters had been sent.
“It could be that someone [who has received a letter] has raised an issue, or that they can’t contact somebody, or just that they have limited resource to go through all the responses they have received to the letters,” the source said.
The inquiry heard from more than 150 witnesses over over 37 weeks between November 2010 and December 2011.
A spokesman for the inquiry declined to comment on whether the 15 October deadline would be missed.
The inquiry heard evidence about failures in staffs’ care and compassion, whistleblowing, and management culture inside and outside the trust. Those who gave evidence include NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson; former Care Quality Commission chief executive Cynthia Bower, and outgoing CQC chair Dame Jo Williams, who announced her resignation earlier this month; and former health secretary - now shadow health secretary - Andy Burnham.