The former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to face criminal charges in relation to the deaths of four patients.
The Health and Safety Executive said it was in the public interest to bring criminal charges against the trust after “a thorough and comprehensive investigation”.
Mid Staffordshire was formally dissolved as a provider of services in November 2014, but will exist as a legal entity until November 2017. It was at the heart of the care scandal that resulted in the Francis inquiry.
The HSE said the criminal charges related to the deaths of:
- Patrick Daly, 89, who died in May 2014
- Edith Bourne, 83, who died in July 2013
- Ivy Bunn, 90, who died in November 2008
- Lillian Tucker, 77, who died in October 2005
Wayne Owen, principal inspector for the HSE in the West Midlands, said: “We have concluded our investigation into the death of four patients at Stafford Hospital and have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings in this case.
“There are four separate charges, each alleging a breach under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act,” he said.
The trust is due to appear before Stafford magistrates’ court on 4 November.
The HSE was criticised by Sir Robert Francis QC over its failure to previously investigate poor care at the trust.
“[We] have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings in this case”
In his report, Sir Robert criticised the HSE’s position on healthcare incidents, saying it had the “appearance of looking for reasons for not taking action”.
He said a focus on resources “has led to the unacceptable position that the more serious and widespread a failure is, the less likely it is that HSE will decide to intervene”.
Since April the Care Quality Commission has had thee power, under the fundamental standards, to prosecute healthcare providers for failings in care.
These are designed to close what the Francis report called a “regulatory gap” between the HSE and the CQC.