NHS's darkest day: Five more hospitals under investigation for neglect as report blames 'failings at every level' for 1,200 deaths at Stafford Hospital

Inspections to be carried out at hospitals with high death rates after report reveals catastrophic failures at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust

Five hospital trusts with persistently high death rates are facing investigation tonight after a damning report into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust raised fears that basic clinical failings could be putting patients at risk across the NHS.

The inspections were announced by David Cameron in the wake of the excoriating report into the catastrophic failings at the trust which led the unnecessary deaths of up to 1,200 patients.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, described the Mid Staffs scandal yesterday as “the most shocking betrayal of NHS founding values in its history”.

Ministers are concerned that the five trusts, all of which have higher-than-expected death rates, could have similar underlying problems.

The hospitals in Colchester, Tameside, Blackpool, Basildon and Lancashire will all face detailed inspections led by the Medical Director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh, over the next three months. Department of Health sources suggested that other hospitals could also face inspections as part of a new “zero-tolerance” approach to poor care.

The announcement was made as Mr Cameron responded to the publication of the Francis report which chronicled the appalling neglect of patients at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.

In his report Robert Francis, QC, described how patients were left “unwashed, unfed and without water” while staff treated them and their relatives with “callous indifference”.

“There was a lack of care, compassion, humanity and leadership,” he said. “The most basic standards of care were not observed and fundamental rights to dignity were not respected.”

He detailed the systematic failings of the NHS to identify and deal with the problems “at every level” which he said had “betrayed” the trust of the public.

As a result Mr Cameron pledged new measures to combat poor care, including controversial plans to link the pay of nurses to performance and an overhaul of the professional bodies which hold doctors and nurses to account.

The Prime Minister said the report’s evidence of systemic failure means “we cannot say with confidence that failings of care are limited to one hospital”.

He also promised seriously to consider proposals in the Francis report for all medical staff to be made personally liable for care they provide to their patients, and face prosecution if they break a new statutory duty of “candour”.

But he disappointed groups representing the families of patients who died in Stafford Hospital by standing by the head of the NHS Sir David Nicholson – who was a senior health service manager for the area at the time. Last night they called on him to resign.

The inquiry was set up to assess the wider lessons to be learnt by the NHS from the Staffordshire scandal. The report makes a total of 290 sweeping recommendations for healthcare regulators, providers and the Government. These include:

* A new register for healthcare support workers which would be able to “strike off” poorly performing staff.

* The creation of a new set of “fundamental standards” for care in the NHS which can easily be understood by staff, patients and the public. Any hospital that does not consistently maintain these standards should be shut down by regulators. Non-compliance with the standards leading to the “death or serious harm of a patient” should be prosecuted as a criminal offence.

* There should be a criminal offence for any registered doctor, nurse or health professional to mislead regulators. They would also have an obligation of “candour” to patients or families and be trained in compassion.

The Government is due formally to respond to the Francis report next month but Mr Cameron made clear that he expected the Government would endorse most of its findings.

But patient groups were angry that there have so far been no prosecutions or high-level resignations as a result of the scandal.

James Duff, whose wife Doreen died after receiving sub-standard care at Stafford Hospital, called on Sir David Nicholson to resign.

“Not one person has lost their job over this – instead they have been promoted and some people have been moved sideways,” he said. Sir David confirmed that he would not be standing down but said he was apologising again “to the people of Stafford for what happened”.

Other NHS organisations also pledged to improve in the wake of the scandal. The chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, David Behan, said it would look to implement plans for a new Chief Inspector of Hospitals.

 Lyn Hill-Tout, of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stafford Hospital, said they “still get things wrong” but added that “the culture and quality of care had improved since 2008”.

Scandals in waiting: The five trusts

* Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital): “We take the mortality indicator extremely seriously” – Sean MacDonnell, medical director. 

* Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Tameside Hospital, near Manchester): “We look at all the factors throughout our community which influence this data” – Tariq Mahmood, medical director.

* Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Blackpool Victoria Hospital plus two community hospitals): “We are committed to improving the outcomes for patients” – Mark O’Donnell, medical director.

* Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust  (Basildon Hospital and Orsett Hospital, Essex): “The trust is working hard to improve our performance” – a spokesperson.

* East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (Royal Blackburn Hospital, Burnley General Hospital): “Clinicians review every patient death to see if anything could have been done differently” – Rineke Schram, medical director.

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn