11 June 2010
A full public inquiry will be held into the failings in patient care at Stafford Hospital. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has stated the public inquiry will investigate the role of commissioning, supervisory and regulatory organisations and systems to “identify the lessons to be learned” from the appalling and tragic standards of care found at Stafford Hospital which resulted in the “unnecessary deaths” of between 400 to 1200 patients.
This is a decision warmly welcomed by Richard Stein and Rosa Curling of Leigh Day & Co Solicitors who represent Cure the NHS and many former patients and relatives who lost loved ones at the Hospital. Julie Bailey and Chris Dalziel of Cure the NHS issued legal proceedings last year challenging the then Secretary of State’s refusal to hold a public inquiry. “Our clients have been asking for a full public inquiry for almost 18 months now and we are delighted the Secretary of State has now agreed.”
“It is clearly crucial that the exact causes of the tragic and appalling standards of care found at Stafford Hospital are fully investigated and understood. Why were the appalling standards of care left unchallenged for so long by the regulatory and supervisory bodies? The public needs to know that lessons have been learnt to ensure the same tragedies that took place in Stafford do not happen again.”
The public inquiry will be chaired by Robert Francis QC, who also chaired the non-statutory independent inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust held in 2009. A copy of his report from that inquiry can be found here.
Unlike the independent inquiry, the public inquiry will have the full statutory force of the Public Inquiries Act 2005 which includes the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence under oath. And, unlike the independent inquiry, the evidence and hearings will be accessible to the public. Robert Francis QC aims to provide his final report by March 2011. The full terms of reference for the public inquiry can be found here.
As said by Julie Bailey of Cure the NHS: "It's not about revenge…it's about accountability and openness. Tomorrow we've got to start a new beginning for the NHS because we don't need any more unnecessary deaths."
For more information please contact Rosa Curling on 020 7650 1200.
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