21 September 2009
Richard Stein, partner in the human rights department at Leigh Day & Co, represents Cure the NHS, a local Stafford group, and over 60 patients and their relatives at the public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital. A Healthcare Commission report earlier this year examined the care of emergency patients, from the time they arrived in A&E, care on the Emergency Assessment Unit and subsequent admission to a surgical or medical ward. The investigation revealed “appalling standards of care and chaotic systems for looking after patients. It estimated that between 400 & 1200 people died unnecessarily at Stafford Hospital between 2005 & 2008. At the same time the the Secretary of State granted the hospital trust foundation trust status.
Robert Francis QC was appointed by the Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham to investigate the tragedy at the hospital.
The public inquiry into failings at the hospital had an opening session last Tuesday, when Robert Francis announced the matters he proposed to cover in the Inquiry and the procedure & timetable he will adopt. Richard Stein said, 'Our clients are extremely disappointed by the announcement on a number of fronts.' He announced at the opening session, on behalf of his clients that he now intends to judicially review the limited scope of the Inquiry. The proposed inquiry is much too narrow. It fails to look at how those running the hospital were able to avoid coming to the attention of the numerous regulators, NHS & Department of Health bodies responsible for preventing such appalling tragedies from happening. A letter before claim will be sent to Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State later this week.
In addition Robert Francis confirmed that oral hearings, involving patients would be held in private. This was said to be to to protect the confidentiality of patient medical information. Richard Stein confirmed that he had spoken to at least thirty potential witnesses who were adamant that they wanted to give their evidence about the abuse suffered at the hospital in public. Hearings involving senior managers at the hospital are also to be held in private. Representations will be made on behalf of Leigh Day & Co's clients to Mr Francis that public servants, including those who ran the hospital over the past few years, should have to justify the way they conducted themselves as well paid public servants, in public.
Julie Bailey of Cure the NHS described the proposed inquiry as a “whitewash” that would not establish what went wrong.
Richard Stein said: We are meeting with Robert Francis this week to discuss ways in which the Inquiry can be changed to deliver the open investigation into the tragedy which patients of Stafford Hospital require.
For more information please contact Richard Stein
or Rosa Curling
on 020 7650 1200.
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