Stafford Hospital Inquiry

An independent inquiry has found that patients at Stafford Hospital were "routinely neglected" after management became preoccupied with cost-cutting and targets.

The inquiry also found that patients were left unwashed, at times for up to a month, and food and drinks were left out of their reach.

Adding that the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stafford Hospital, lost sight of its responsibility to provide safe care.

The probe was launched into events at Stafford Hospital after another report last March from the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust, which also runs Cannock Chase Hospital.

Appalling standards of care put many 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 commission found.

The inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC made 18 recommendations for both the trust and the government in his final report after hearing evidence from more than 900 patients and families.

Mr Francis said: "I heard so many stories of shocking care. These patients were not simply numbers, they were husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandparents.

"They were people who entered Stafford Hospital and rightly expected to be well cared for and treated.

"Instead many suffered horrific experiences that will haunt them and their loved ones for the rest of their lives."

Mr Francis also identified a chronic shortage of staff, particularly nurses, as being largely responsible for the sub-standard care give to patients.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said today: "This was an appalling failure at every level of the hospital to ensure patients received the care and compassion they deserved. There can be no excuses for this.

"I am accepting all of the recommendations in full."

"These events were unacceptable and do not reflect the experience of millions of patients that use the NHS every day or the dedication and professionalism of the majority of NHS staff."

Campaigners are still not happy that the inquiry was held in private and Julie Bailey, who founded the group Cure The NHS after the death of her mother at the hospital, described the report as "absolutely outrageous", adding: "All he's done is recommended another independent inquiry."

However, Health Secretary Andy Burnham has turned down the calls for a public inquiry.

A helpline for anyone affected by the report has been set up - the telephone number is 0800 783 4310.