Patients must be “treated as human beings” and not as numbers, the health secretary has said ahead of a high profile report into the care failings that took place at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Jeremy Hunt’s comments come ahead of the £11m review of what went wrong at Stafford Hospital between January 2005 and March 2009.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hunt said the NHS needed a “change of culture”.
“Patients must never be treated as numbers but as human beings, indeed human beings at their frailest and most vulnerable,” he wrote.
“A culture of targets and performance management defined the NHS under Labour - with the unintended and tragic consequence that organisations cared more about meeting top down targets than focusing on the needs of patients.”
In 2009 the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and said “appalling standards” put patients at risk.
Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the commission said.
The public inquiry, led by Robert Francis QC, is due to submit its report to ministers this month.
It was commissioned in 2010 after an election pledge from the Conservatives to hold a public inquiry. A previous independent, but non public, inquiry into events at the trust found it had “routinely neglected patients”.
Mr Hunt added: “We are rightly proud of the core founding values of the NHS, particularly that no one, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care.
“These failings of basic human compassion represent perhaps the most shocking betrayal of NHS founding values in its history.
“And a betrayal of the vast majority of doctors, nurses and care assistants who joined the profession because of their innate compassion and humanity.”