UK & World News
Mid Staffs Scandal: More Hospitals Investigated
Five hospital trusts are to be investigated over their mortality rates following the publication of the inquiry into mistreatment and neglect of patients at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
An immediate probe is to be launched into Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
The news follows Robert Francis QC's scathing report which laid bare the events at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009, and which called for a "zero tolerance" approach to poor standards in the health system.
The Department of Health put cash over patient care, the report into the unnecessary deaths of up to 1,200 patients concluded.
A total of 290 recommendations were made in the report which found the hospital trust tolerated or sought to explain away bad news.
In his report, Mr Francis attacked local health authorities and the trust board - but did not blame any one individual or organisation for the "disaster" at the hospital.
Sir David Nicholson, who was in charge of the local strategic health authority for Stafford between 2003 and 2006, and is now Chief Executive of the NHS, admitted the "whole system" failed patients at the hospital.
He told Sky News: "It was an absolutely appalling set of arrangements.
"When we saw the mortality rates of course we were concerned about all of that but those mortality rates came after I'd actually left.
"The major responsibility for the care at Mid Staffordshire Hospital was the board ... but nevertheless the whole system failed those patients in a very catastrophic way, and it's my responsibility to put that right, and that is what I'm doing."
He added: "I have apologised both to the families and the people of Stafford for the appalling experience they had - apologies are not enough.
"I take my share of the responsibility for what happened."
The report called for a "zero tolerance" approach to poor standards of care and said hospitals which failed to comply with a "fundamental standard" should be forced to close.
It also called for greater emphasis on compassion across the health service - and said healthcare providers should be liable for prosecution if they failed to meet standards.
Mr Francis said the NHS had a series of checks and balances which should have prevented "serious systematic failure of this sort".
But he said the system failed in its primary duty of protecting patients and that "numerous" warning signs were missed which should have alerted authorities to problems at the trust.
Speaking as the report was published, Mr Francis said: "This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people.
"They were failed by a system which ignored the warning signs and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety.
"We need a patient-centred culture, no tolerance of non-compliance with fundamental standards, openness and transparency, candour to patients, strong cultural leadership, caring compassionate nursing, and useful and accurate information about services.
"In short, the trust that the public should be able to place in the NHS was betrayed."
Mr Francis said whistleblowers reported failings in care, reports painted a picture of a hospital that was severely stretched and there were indications of dysfunctional management.
But he said consultants "kept their heads down" and that staff who spoke out were bullied and the truth suppressed.
Managers had "no culture" for listening to patients, who he said were excluded, along with their families, from their own care.
The report said poor leadership and staffing policies led to a "completely inadequate" standard of nursing on some wards at Stafford Hospital.
His failure to name any individual comes despite many calls for Mr Nicholson to resign over the scandal.
"This is not a case where it was ever going to be possible or permissible to find an individual or a group of individuals was to blame for this," he said.
An increased culture of compassion and caring in nursing is called for in the report, which recommended there should be a legal obligation for healthcare providers and medics to observe a "duty of candour".
Responding to the report's publication, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "What happened at Mid Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust was not just wrong. It was truly dreadful."
He also apologised on behalf of the government and country for the way the system had allowed "horrific abuse to go unchecked and unchallenged", saying: "I am truly sorry."
Mr Cameron said the report's evidence of systemic failure means "we cannot say with confidence that failings of care are limited to one hospital".
The scandal at the hospital emerged in 2009, when it was revealed between 400 to 1,200 more people died than would have been expected between 2005 and 2008.
The NHS Commissioning Board, which announced a probe into five further trusts, said the investigation would to be carried out by medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.
The five trusts, which had higher than expected death rates for two successive years to 2012, welcomed the probe and said they were committed to improving mortality rates.