His chairmanship into the failings of Stafford hospital earned Robert Francis QC the reputation of the patient’s champion.
His dry wit and “forensically exceptional” approach during the lengthy hearings into the scandal earned him plaudits from the influential Health Service Journal which praised his “highly tuned bullshit detector” in dealing with witnesses and complex issues.
The two reports into the Mid Staffs NHS Trust are the twin pinnacles in a 30 year career in which he has undertaken clinical negligence cases around the world. He served as a barrister at the three year inquiry into the deaths of 29 babies undergoing heart operations at Bristol Royal Infirmary and at the inquiry into the unauthorised removal and retention of organs at the Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool.
He also chaired the independent inquiry into the care of Michael Stone who murdered Lin and Megan Russell effectively finding that little could have been done to avert the tragedy. Mr Francis, 62, also took part in the investigation over the activities of disgraced gynaecologist Richard Neale, who was struck off in 2000 after botching operations on women for more than a decade.