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'2,875 died over substandard care'

Nearly 3,000 patients died last year as a direct result of substandard hospital care, an investigation has revealed.

The BBC's Panorama programme found that in 2011, 2,875 patients died and 7,585 suffered serious harm because of unsafe care in NHS hospitals.

The revelations come five years after the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust scandal, when hundreds of people died unnecessarily.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that despite the failings, there may still be pockets of appalling standards care within the health and social care system.

He told Panorama: "Whilst failings in care at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust have shocked many, we cannot say with confidence that some of those failings do not exist in pockets elsewhere in the NHS and social care system.

"Whilst the majority of patients receive excellent care from the NHS, we still have much to do to ensure quality of care is considered as important as quality of treatment throughout the system".

He said that a "major priority" of the Government was to put in place proper structures and safeguards to ensure all patients receive acceptable care.

Dr Mike Williams, a former NHS hospital trust chief executive and patient safety expert, said: "Most hospitals are now having more and more patients coming through the front door.

"The money is at a standstill if not reducing.

"The number of staff are therefore at the same level.

"They're having to do more work and work harder and faster."

He added: "The research is very clear that where staff have to work extremely hard and overwork, they are much more likely to make mistakes."

The public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal is due out early next year and, following its publication, the Health Secretary will finalise his proposed health reforms.

Peter Walsh of Action Against Medical Accidents, a specialist charity for patient safety, said: "One of my biggest fears for the outcome of the Staffordshire public inquiry is that the Government will try and convince us all that changes have already taken place, that this is an historical issue and that the new system will somehow deal with the problems that led to Mid Staffordshire.

"That couldn't be further from the truth."

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