Group Expects Inquiry Announcement Over Hospital Deaths

Cure the NHS campaign supported by government


An announcement is expected to be made on whether a public inquiry is going to be held into how 400 more patients than expected died at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008.

Campaign group Cure the NHS, made up of people whose relatives died at the hospital, is visiting Westminster on Wednesday. The Tories, now forming a coalition government, had supported the group's calls since before the General Election.

A previous inquiry, held behind closed doors, had reported that a management pre-occupation with cost-cutting and meeting targets had meant patients at the hospital were routinely neglected.

Inquiry chair Robert Francis QC said the proceedings had been held in private as much of the evidence had consisted of confidential medical information. The previous Labour government had also rejected calls for a public inquiry.

The high number of deaths had been pointed out in a March 2009 Healthcare Commission report, which contained a number of criticisms, including receptionists carrying out initial checks on patients.

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Sara Burns from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “"We would very much hope that a public inquiry is carried out since this is likely to be the only way the public will achieve an understanding of what happened at Stafford and why. This should be seen as an opportunity to get to fully understand the nature of the problems facing this hospital, to ensure that lessons are learned and to put in place mechanisms for building better care for the future across the NHS."