Public inquiry into Stafford Hospital

The Prime Minister's announced a public inquiry will be held into one of the worst NHS scandals in history.

Hundreds of patients died at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009 amid allegations of neglect and David Cameron said the standards of care at Stafford Hospital had been "appalling".

Mr Cameron told MPs: "I remember going to Stafford and meeting with the families, many of which had lost loved ones, some of whom went into hospital for a routine operation but because the standards of hygiene were not right, because the management was not right, and because frankly targets were being pursued rather than clinical outcomes, people died needlessly."

He insisted a public inquiry was important so the people of Stafford could "tell their story".

A previous inquiry concluded that patients were routinely neglected because managers were pre-occupied with cost-cutting and reaching targets.

The previous Labour government rejected calls for a full public inquiry into events at Stafford Hospital, instead ordering an independent inquiry.

That inquiry, which published its findings in February, found that the hospital "routinely neglected" patients and displayed "systemic failings" in its approach to care. The independent report, chaired by Robert Francis QC, also found the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust lost sight of its responsibility to provide safe care after managers became preoccupied with cost-cutting and Government targets.

The previous inquiry was launched after a Healthcare Commission report published last year 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.

Giving more details of the move, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the new inquiry would be chaired by Mr Francis and deliver its conclusions by next March. He said evidence would be held in public in order to "combat a culture of secrecy and restore public confidence".

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