NHS Deaths: Health Sec Urges Police Probe

NHS Deaths: Health Sec Urges Police Probe

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged police to investigate the hundreds of deaths caused by neglect and abuse at Stafford Hospital.

In the wake of a damning report into care failings at the hospital, Mr Hunt said it was "absolutely disgraceful" that nobody had been "held to account" for the premature deaths of up to 1,200 people.

"I think it's absolutely outrageous that potentially more than a thousand people lost their lives because of poor care and not a single person has been brought to book," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"This was a public inquiry that was designed to help us understand why the system didn't pick up what went wrong but I think it is absolutely disgraceful with all those things happening, whether it is doctors, nurses or managers, nobody has been held to account."

Mr Hunt said the police should look at the evidence already in the public domain and insisted it was not for him to say who was guilty and who was not.

"As a politician, I am not in a position to say this nurse is guilty, this nurse is not, and all these things have to be decided at arm's length following due process. This is about people's careers and livelihood and there has to be fairness of course," he said.

Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, uncovered a "disaster" in the standards of basic care and medical treatment for some of the most vulnerable and elderly patients.

Reporting this week, Mr Francis said there were failings at every level of the NHS and that the culture among healthcare staff must change.

He said: "What we need to avoid is yet another wholesale reorganisation of abolishing organisations and creating new ones.

"This is about how people behave when they go to work and their ability to raise concerns and be honest about what's going on in their hospitals."

His comments came after it emerged there were 3,000 more deaths than expected at another five NHS trusts between 2010 and last year.

A review has been launched into Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Patients' campaigner Julie Bailey, whose elderly mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital, called for individuals in the NHS to be held accountable for the failings in care.

She said: "This is an opportunity to put down the gauntlet and say enough is enough. From today you will be held accountable for your actions - it's no good saying in the future you will be held accountable.

"We want accountability for the hundreds of deaths and the suffering our loved ones had to put up with."

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