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Stafford Hospital public inquiry to begin

  • 6 Comments

A public inquiry will begin today into failings at an NHS hospital criticised for routinely neglecting patients and providing appalling standards of care.

The inquiry, announced by health secretary Andrew Lansley in June, aims to build on the work of an earlier independent investigation into the care provided by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009.

The latest inquiry, being held at the offices of Stafford borough council, will begin with an opening statement by its chairman, Robert Francis QC.

Mr Francis, who begins hearing expert evidence next week, also chaired the previous independent inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital.

That inquiry, which published its findings last February, identified systemic failings at the hospital, where managers were preoccupied with cost-cutting and government targets.

Launched after a Healthcare Commission report published last year, the previous inquiry revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust, which also runs Cannock Chase Hospital.

Appalling standards put patients at risk and between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008.

The previous Labour government rejected calls for a full public inquiry into events at the hospital, instead ordering the independent inquiry.

Mr Lansley said in June that the new inquiry would be held in public in order to combat “a culture of secrecy” and restore public confidence.

When he announced the latest inquiry, Mr Lansley told Parliament: “We know only too well what happened at Mid Staffordshire, in all its harrowing detail, and the failings of the trust itself.

“But, we are still little closer to understanding how it was allowed to happen by the wider system.

“When this inquiry has completed its work and I return to this House to present its report, I am confident that we will, for the first time in this tragic saga, be able to discuss conclusions, rather than questions.”

In a statement issued last month, Mr Francis said he was committed to carrying out an independent, evidence-based and transparent process, to identify the broader lessons to be drawn for the wider health system.

Mr Francis said: “I believe this is an important opportunity to contribute to the improvement of standards in the NHS and the protection of the public, building on the lessons from Mid Staffordshire.

“My aim is that, through an open, candid and reflective consideration of the events at Mid Staffordshire, the inquiry will be able to make recommendations which will assist to shape the regulatory, supervisory and commissioning structures of the NHS of the future.”

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • Let us hope that the results of this enquiry place the blame where it deserves to go. That it highlights what happens when you are trying to operate a target driven culture within a supposedly caring environment. That lack of clinical staff kills patients. ALL foundation trusts should be watching and learning from this as I doubt that any of them can think themselves blameless as they are all freezing posts and increasing the workload of frontline staff without giving any real thought to where this is leading.

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  • Yes, let us hope that results of the enquiry get to the bottom of the problem and the blame go to where it should be. Repeatedly mistakes can't happened and this is lives of people we are talking about. Cutting cost, freezing recruitment is recent, and these are ongoing issues at this particular trust. As far as meeting targets are concerned this has brought about lots of important changes and any health care professional should know by now how to priotirise their tasks in making clinical decisions as well as meeting targets. I just can't for one second think to try and put myself in the shoes of the mother who has lost his beloved son due to lack competence or lack of staff. Whichever the reason, it should be brought to light so that it can be avoided in future. Clinical practice should made a positive difference in people lives!

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  • throwing rocks of blame at people is not helpful and only serves your sense of justice to your feelings. Nothing else.
    What I hope for is honesty, learning and improvement through this situation, and I'm even hoping for a change in the culture of decision making and operation in all departments. While we are commanded to persist with a hierarchical and stone age culture of health care relationships it will remain as difficult as ever to report mistakes and seek change and improvement. Dogmatic attitudes are out of date and a hindrance.

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  • Did everybody know Stafford was truly dreadful?
    I mean, if they did, what's wrong with people that they didn't shout it from the rooftops, or at least express themselves to the auditors, or, if they didn't, does that mean every other hospital is skating on thin ice?

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  • Corporate accountability.

    Until those in charge are held accountable for their failings you will never see anything change.

    It's quite simple really but something govt's can't quite grasp!

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  • Did everybody know Stafford was truly dreadful?
    I mean, if they did, what's wrong with people that they didn't shout it from the rooftops, or at least express themselves to the auditors, or, if they didn't, does that mean every other hospital is skating on thin ice?

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