Department of Health and Social Care
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Statement on Stafford Hospital, Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust

Statement on Stafford Hospital, Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service.

Speaking today in the House of Commons the Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"I apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS, for the pain and anguish caused to so many patients and their families by the appalling standards of care at Stafford Hospital and for the failures highlighted in this report.

"Patients will want to be absolutely certain that the quality of care at Stafford hospital has been radically transformed, and in particular, that the urgent and emergency care is administered safely.

"I have today, jointly with Monitor, asked Professor Sir George Alberti, the eminent physician and National Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Care, to lead an independent review of the Trust's procedures for emergency admissions and treatment and their progress against the recommendations in the report. He will report in five weeks' time and his findings will be published to the House.

"The Healthcare Commission have told me that they are confident that Stafford hospital is an isolated case, and that having looked at other trusts with similarly high standardised mortality ratios, they are reassured that a similar succession of serious lapses in care has not occurred elsewhere.

"The National Quality Board has been set up to look at how organisations work effectively together in patients' best interests. It is composed of representatives of the Royal Colleges, patient groups, regulatory bodies and clinical experts.

"I have asked the Board to look at how we can ensure that any early signs that something is going wrong are picked up immediately, that the right organisations are alerted, and action is taken quickly.

"One of the reasons why the Healthcare Commission began their investigation was that after having been initially alerted to problems in the Trust, it became clear that there had been serious failings for some time. The Healthcare Commission's report raises serious concerns about why the primary care trusts and the strategic health authority either failed to spot the problems at the Trust or having spotted them, failed to act.

"I have asked Dr David Colin-Thome, the National Clinical Director for Primary Care, to review the circumstances surrounding Mid Staffordshire Trust prior to the Healthcare Commission's investigation to learn lessons about how the primary care trusts and the Strategic Health Authority - within the commissioning and performance management system that they operate - failed to expose what was happening in this hospital. His recommendations will focus on what commissioners across England - GPs and PCTs - can learn from this case to be sure they are advocating effectively on patients' behalf.

"Our principal concern today must be to reassure the families and friends of patients who have died at Stafford Hospital that they will be able to ascertain whether any of the failings detailed in the Healthcare Commission's report contributed in any way to the death of their loved ones. As the Healthcare Commission has said, it is not possible to determine conclusively from any set of statistics whether there were any unavoidable deaths due to poor standards of care - that can only be done through a case notes review.

"I can confirm that the new leadership of the Trust will respond to every request from those relatives and carry out an independent review of case notes to determine whether or not the care they or their loved ones received was appropriate.

"The failings at Stafford hospital are inexcusable. I hope we can close this chapter in the hospital's history, by acknowledging and addressing past failings, and by ensuring that lessons are learned by government and the NHS at all levels, to make sure that these terrible failures are never allowed to happen again.

Notes to editors

The statement was delivered in the House of Commons at 12:30 on Wednesday 18 March 2009 in response to the Healthcare Commission investigation of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.