The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, last night 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. “This was a public inquiry 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,” he said.

Asked whether the information should be passed to the police, he added: “It’s there for the police – and it’s there for the professional bodies, the  General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to look at and they should do that.”

Mr Hunt said: “As a politician, I am not in a position to say this nurse is guilty, this nurse is not, and all these things have to be decided at arm’s length following due process. This is about people’s careers and livelihood and there has to be fairness.”

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 patients.