Stafford hospital scandal: NHS staff responsible for 'terrible care of patients could face prosecution for wilful neglect or manslaughter'

 

NHS staff responsible for the “terrible” care of patients at Stafford Hospital could face prosecution for wilful neglect or manslaughter, the head of the inquiry into failings of care suggested today.

Robert Francis QC, who conducted the official inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, said people should be “held to account” where it was possible to do so.

However, he warned that some of the “terrible things” that happened at the hospital didn’t “necessarily fit easily into a criminal category”. 

Mr Francis said that while his inquiry did not blame individuals that did not mean that those who worked and managed health care in Staffordshire should not be held to account.

He said the terms of his inquiry were to examine actions - or inactions - of organisations rather than individuals against a “background of the most appalling” care provided to large numbers of patients at Stafford Hospital.

But he added: “I do not believe that this report exonerates people at all, I do urge those who have not done so to read the accounts given of the history in the various chapters about the organisations, where I set out in detail what individuals have done and what they have not done, what letters they got and their reaction to these letters.

“Others may disagree but I personally believe that is the useful contribution a public inquiry can make in this situation.”

His comments are likely to be seized upon by critics of Sir David Nicholson, head of the NHS Commissioning Board, who was in charge of the Strategic Health Authority overseeing Mid Staffordshire at the time of the scandal.

Some, including in private some cabinet ministers, believe Sir David should step down over his role. The organisation that he ran was criticised in the report.

But Mr Francis said effectively putting people on trial by making one of the inquiry terms of reference that of identifying individuals responsible would have resulted in a number of “unfortunate” results.

“You cannot try people without it being fair,” he told MPs on the House of Commons health select committee.

“I personally think that would have had a number of unfortunate results...the first would have been the duration and extent of the inquiry.

“Every single person involved would have instructed a lawyer, every single person would have to have been a core participant.

“I know some people have criticised the length of my inquiry but I would have been running this inquiry for years - the lessons would not have been learned but perhaps the most important point is that I don't think we would have found out as much as we did.”

Mr Francis said his job had been to find out from as many people as possible what had happened and to build up a picture of events at Stafford Hospital and then to draw lessons for the future.

“Clearly one of these lessons is that there is insufficient accountability in this system and it is for that reason that I make a number of recommendations in that regard,“ he said.

Mr Francis said he had witnessed a ”tsunami of anger“ directed towards the NHS over the absence of consideration of the impact of actions upon patients.

”I have not said that individuals should not be held to account, clearly they should be where possible,“ he told MPs.

The public inquiry report by Mr Francis called for a ”zero tolerance“ approach to poor standards of care in the health system. It said the NHS had failed to protect patients at the hospital, regulatory agencies failed to communicate and there was ”too great a degree of tolerance of poor standards.“

The trust failed to tackle an insidious negative culture” including a tolerance of poor care standards and had a culture of “self promotion” rather than critical analysis and openness, his report found.

The public inquiry was ordered after a separate report revealed that between 400 and 1,200 more people died than expected at Stafford Hospital over a four year period between 2005 and 2009.

Patients were left for hours sitting in their own faeces, food and drink was left out of reach and hygiene was so poor that relatives had to clean toilets themselves.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Recruitment Genius: BID Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With more than half the world's populati...

Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton A highly...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?