Public inquiry to look into hospital scandal

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A full public inquiry is to be held into failings at an NHS hospital that are believed to have cost hundreds of lives, David Cameron said today.

The Prime Minister 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."



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









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".



Mr Lansley criticised the former government for not putting the process in place before.



"We know only too well what happened at Mid Staffordshire, in all its harrowing detail, and the failings of the trust itself," he told the Commons.



"But, we are still little closer to understanding how it was allowed to happen by the wider system.



"The families of those patients who suffered so dreadfully deserve to know. And so too does every NHS patient in this country."



He went on: "When this inquiry has completed its work and I return to this House to present its report, I am confident that we will, for the first time in this tragic saga, be able to discuss conclusions, rather than questions.



"We will be able to show that we have finally faced up to the uncomfortable truths of this terrible episode, and we will be able to show that we are taking every step to ensure that it is never allowed to happen again."



Mr Lansley said the Government was acting immediately to give more protection to NHS whistleblowers and strip away distorting targets.



"At Mid Staffs safety was not the priority - it was undermined by politically-motivated, process targets," he added.

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