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Criminal Inquiry Into Stafford Hospital Death
The Health and Safety Executive has launched a criminal inquiry into the death of a diabetic woman at Stafford Hospital in 2007.
Gillian Astbury died after slipping into a diabetic coma at the scandal-hit hospital.
An inquest into her death found that the failure to administer insulin to the 66-year-old amounted to a gross failure to provide basic care.
A spokesman for the HSE said the decision on whether to pursue a criminal investigation had been deferred until the conclusion of a public inquiry chaired by Robert Francis.
"We can now confirm that our inspectors have today formally started an investigation," the spokesman said.
"Our focus will be on establishing whether there is evidence of the employer (the trust) or individuals failing to comply with their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act."
The report by Mr Francis highlighted "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people" at the trust between 2005 and 2009.
As many as 1,200 patients may have died needlessly after they were "routinely neglected" at the hospital.
Mrs Astbury, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, died in the early hours of April 11, 2007, while being treated for fractures to her arm and pelvis.
Jurors at the September 2010 inquest found that a contributory factor in her death was a systemic failure to provide adequate nursing facilities and low staffing levels.
In its verdict, the 10-member jury said that "there were serious shortcomings in systems and in implementation, monitoring and management of the systems in place.
"Nursing facilities were poor, staff levels were too low, training was poor, and record keeping and communications systems were poor and inadequately managed."
The inquest heard that Mrs Astbury's blood sugar levels were not properly monitored and insulin was not administered on the day before her death, despite being prescribed by doctors.
In a statement issued by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, its director of quality and patient experience, Julie Hendry, apologised for what she said was the "appalling" and "dreadful" care Mrs Astbury received at the hospital.
"Mrs Astbury's death was reported as a serious untoward incident at the time and a full investigation into her care and treatment was carried out.
"The recommendations from that investigation were implemented," including improving information among staff, she said.
Ms Hendry said a 2010 review of the case had led to disciplinary action and pledged full co-operation with the HSE investigation.