Cameron apologises for Stafford Hospital failings

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David Cameron has apologised on behalf of the government and country for the failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, after hundreds of patients at Stafford Hospital died unnecessarily.

The prime minister said he was "truly sorry" that the system had allowed "horrific abuse to go unchecked and unchallenged" for so long.

He told the Commons that what happened at the hospital was "not just wrong; it was truly dreadful".

Mr Cameron was making a statement on the report of the public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital, on 6 February 2013.

Robert Francis QC's inquiry criticised the failure of regulators and senior health service managers in spotting cases of abuse and neglect between 2005 and 2008.

Mr Cameron said the report's evidence of systemic failure means "we cannot say with confidence that failings of care are limited to one hospital".

But he cautioned: "Francis does not blame any specific policy. He does not blame the last secretary of state for health and he says we should not seek scapegoats."

Mr Cameron said three fundamental problems were identified in the report: a focus on finance and figures at the expense of patient care, a lack of accountability, and complacency. He said the government would respond to all of the recommendations "in detail" next month.

'Political will'

Labour leader Ed Miliband also apologised to the families of the victims for what happened.

He said it was impossible to "turn the clock back" but added the government needed to make changes to ensure the scandal could not happen elsewhere.

"What happened has no place in any NHS hospital. We must ensure that it does not, and cannot, happen again."

Jeremy Lefroy, the Conservative MP for Stafford, said the best thing for the victims was to implement the recommendations "as quickly as possible" so the NHS can be "safe for all".

Mr Cameron agreed and pointed out that the recommendations were not just for government and the Department for Health but for "every hospital, every nurse and every doctor to consider".

Tory Philip Lee wanted to know: "When are we going to draw up contracts so that people get sacked for poor performance, be it financial or clinical?"

Joan Walley, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, said local MPs should work together to ensure the right changes happen.

Liberal Democrat Lorely Burt, a Solihull MP, said the PM had acted swiftly in appointing an inspector for hospitals.

But she said "political will and scrutiny" was also needed to drive through the changes to ensure there is not a repeat of the scandal.

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