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Mid Staffs Inquiry closes as latest claims conclude on behalf of victims and their families

The official Inquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has ended

Stafford Hospital

1 December 2011

As the second inquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust ends, law firm Leigh Day & Co has announced that it has so far settled 119 abuse claims as the latest group of families taking legal action against the trust concludes.

The claims followed the first report into Stafford Hospital published in March 2009 by the Healthcare Commission, which estimated that as many as 1200 people had died unnecessarily at the hospital between 2005 and 2008 due to the “appalling” standards of care provided.

Following protracted meetings with Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust the Human Rights team at Leigh Day & Co ensured compensation totalling over £1.2m was paid out to those whose family members experienced ill-treatment at Stafford Hospital and most importantly, each of those affected received a personal apology from the new chief executive of the Trust.

The claims were all argued under the Human Rights Act. Leigh Day & Co argued that Articles 2 – Right to Life, Articles 3 – prohibition of Torture, which includes inhumane and degrading treatment and Article 8 – right to respect for a private and family life had all been breached.

The Human Rights Act was argued, as the treatment received was, in some cases, so appalling. Being left to sit in faeces for extended periods of time the team felt was clearly inhumane and degrading treatment especially for patients that spent many months in such appalling conditions.

Article 8 also includes mental and physical integrity.  The Human Rights team at Leigh Day & Co considered this Article as in some cases it was felt that the distress and anxiety caused to not only the patients, but also their loved ones who watched them suffer, would amount to a breach of a right to respect for a private and family life

All cases alleged that the poor treatment that the mostly elderly people received at Stafford Hospital directly caused, or hastened their deaths, or hastened their deaths through gross and degrading treatment. The treatment patients endured included food and drink placed out of reach, buzzers unanswered and people left for extended periods of time after soiling themselves. 

15 nurses have been suspended for failing to improve standards at Stafford Hospital and one manager has been disciplined.  The head of legal services was sacked in June 2010.

Emma Jones said:

“For our clients the fact that we achieved settlement represents recognition by the Trust that our clients, or their loved ones did not receive appropriate treatment and care and that the appalling conditions in this hospital have been recognised and should never be allowed to happen again, anywhere.

"We have long supported this second inquiry.  Whilst the first report was very damning in respect of issues relating to staffing, culture and management at the Stafford Hospital it did not, in our opinion, go far enough as it did not examine issues relating to external bodies. We hope the report following this inquiry will set out how such an appalling situation was allowed to develop and continue for so long."

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