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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged police to investigate the hundreds of deaths put down to the Mid-Staffordshire NHS scandal.
In the wake of the damning report into care failings at Stafford Hospital, he said it was ``absolutely outrageous'' that nobody had been ``brought to book'' for the premature deaths of up to 1,200 people. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said the police should look at the evidence already in the public domain.
He said: ''I think it's absolutely outrageous that potentially more than a thousand people lost their lives because of poor care and not a single person has been brought to book.'' adding ''This was a public inquiry that was designed to help us understand why the system didn't pick up what went wrong but I think it is absolutely disgraceful with all those things happening, whether it is doctors, nurses or managers, nobody has been held to account.''
Mr Hunt stressed that it was not for him to say who was guilty and who was not.
Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, uncovered a ``disaster'' in the standards of basic care and medical treatment for some of the most vulnerable and elderly patients. Mr Francis said there were failings at every level of the NHS and that the culture among healthcare staff must change. He said none of the 290 recommendations covered in his report ``have been made lightly'' and hoped all would be adopted in full.
Staffordshire police released a statement to Heart explaining that they are currently reading the detail of the large report. The statement reads:
"The events at Stafford Hospital have been a tragedy for the many families affected and our local communities. Like them, we are currently studying the report's full contents.
"Whilst the five major inquiries - including two independent public inquiries - into the hospital highlighted many instances of unacceptable standards of patient care, at that time there was no evidence that the circumstances of any of the tragic deaths constituted a criminal offence under the law.
"The fact that public inquiries were commissioned indicates that a criminal investigation, using the legislation as it stood at that time, would not have been effective in uncovering the failings. This is supported by significant recommendations within the report to change the criminal law.
"We work closely with HM Coroner when cases relating to death in healthcare settings are referred to us. Officers carry out detailed reviews, liaising with the coroner's office and, where necessary, the Crown Prosecution Service."