Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Accountability urged over hospital

A health experts says the roots of the Stafford Hospital scandal go much deeper than those who caused immediate harm to patients

NHS leaders should be held accountable for the Stafford Hospital scandal, a health expert has said.

The roots of the Mid Staffordshire affair go "much deeper" than the hospital staff who caused harm to patients, said England's former deputy chief medical officer.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Aidan Halligan said that cultures of "target setting and corner cutting" were set higher up in the health service.

Prof Halligan, now director of education at University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, said that there has been a "deafening silence" from the medical profession since the release of the Francis report into serious failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

He wrote: "Too many people in leadership, from whom we ought to expect more, have been willing to bend the truth and re-write facts for their own convenience. The roots of this affair go much deeper than those who caused immediate harm to patients.

"The cultures of target setting and corner cutting that caused such anguish to patients and their families, and which have been replicated elsewhere, were set far higher up in the health service. But who was to blame? Apparently, no one and everyone."

Robert Francis QC, chairman of the public inquiry into the "disaster" at Mid Staffordshire, 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. Many were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.

Since the publication of the Francis report, NHS boss Sir David Nicholson, who was in charge of the regional health authority responsible for the trust for a short period while patients were being mistreated, has faced numerous calls to resign.

But he has been backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and many other senior health officials.

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