Stafford Hospital trust charged over deaths of four patients
The trust which ran Stafford Hospital is to face criminal charges related to the deaths of four patients - one as recent as last year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has brought charges against Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over the deaths of four elderly patients between 2005 and May 2014.
The allegations relate to health and safety breaches.
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was at the centre of one of the biggest scandals to hit the NHS when it emerged thousands of patients had died unnecessarily at Stafford Hospital, now called County Hospital.
The trust is due to appear before Stafford Magistrates on November 4.
A new trust began to run the hospital last November.
The HSE said the charges related to the deaths of Patrick Daly, aged 89, who died on May 13, 2014, Edith Bourne, aged 83, who died on July 22, 2013, Ivy Bunn, aged 90, who died on November 6, 2008, and Lillian Tucker, aged 77 who died on October 21, 2005.
The HSE said it had charged Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust following a "thorough and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of four deaths of patients under its care".
Wayne Owen, HSE principal inspector in the West Midlands, said: "We have concluded our investigation into the death of four patients at Stafford Hospital and have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings in this case."
The trust remains in place as a legal entity but no longer provides patient services.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust took over the running of Stafford Hospital and Royal Stoke University Hospital.
The Mid Staffs special administrator Tim Rideout said the remaining "shell organisation" would oversee any "potential criminal liabilities".
He added: "I am committed to bringing matters to a conclusion as efficiently and effectively as possible in the best interests of the families concerned."
NHS campaigner Julie Bailey, who worked to expose the serious failings at Staffordshire Hospital after her mother Bella died there in 2007, said the decision was "overdue".
She said: "We are pleased the decision has been taken but at the same it's long overdue. If the HSE had gone in at that time (when details of the deaths began to emerge) and taken decisive action perhaps they could have saved some lives.
"It is a bit hollow given the trust is just a shell now, but it seems to be a common theme throughout the NHS - a lack of accountability, blaming the system, so here we are again."