Campaigner Julie Bailey said she still lies awake at night haunted by the poor care her mother suffered at the hands of the NHS.
Ms Bailey, whose mother Bella died in 2007 at Stafford Hospital, questioned whether the hospital managers also suffered sleepless nights after the scandal.
She said the NHS must work to restore the public’s trust in the health service in the wake of the public inquiry into the serious failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
The inquiry, which published its final report in February, found that hundreds of patients were maltreated at the trust between 2005 and 2009.
Previous reports into the care failings estimated that as many as 1,200 patients may have died needlessly while being treated there.
Patients were left in their own excrement for days, given the wrong medication and some were forced to drink water out of vases.
Speaking at a leadership conference at The King’s Fund Ms Bailey, who set up Cure the NHS after her mother’s death, said: “I am here because of failure in leadership.
“This failure ripped through the heart of the NHS and it allowed hundreds to die and suffer.
“It was not overnight, it was prolonged and throughout the whole system.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t go to bed at night and I lie thinking what I should have done differently, I lie there thinking about the suffering I witnessed.
“Do you think the managers who allowed that to happen lie awake at night hoping they have done things better?
“I am not alone. I am one of many throughout the NHS who have been failed by a lack of leadership. They too continue to suffer what happened to their loved ones whilst in the care of the NHS.
“Our lives are affected forever and they will be until we feel safe in the knowledge that others won’t suffer like our loved ones did.
“What happened at Mid Staffs was a failure in leadership from ward to board and on to Whitehall.
“Managers failed and then refused to accept responsibility. Instead of there being accountability for those failings, some have been promoted and gone on to bigger and better things - what signal does that send to others in the NHS that you can fail and yet you will be rewarded for those failings?”
Ms Bailey called for “radical change” in the health service and urged leaders to promote a culture of honesty, to nurture their own staff, to work to integrate care systems and to embrace the health reforms, adding: “We need to move forward and embrace them the best we can.”
Ms Bailey said that now is the time to “champion the patient”.
She also called for those who fail to be held accountable, adding: “Without accountability we will allow a small pool to blight the NHS.”
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