9 in 10 say 'prosecute failing health staff' after Stafford Hospital scandal
Nine out of 10 people back a proposal to criminally prosecute health professionals if they hide mistakes or fail to meet standards which lead to death or serious harm.
The proposal, put forward in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal, is supported by 90 per cent of those who took part in a thisisstaffordshire.co.uk poll.
Ninety per cent agreed with the idea while six per cent disagreed. Four per cent of the 940 participants said they did not know.
Neglect and abuse at Stafford Hospital led to the unnecessary death of up to 1,200 patients between 2005 and 2008.
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Patients were left in soiled beds, receptionists often decided who to treat in A&E and some patients were so thirsty they drank out of vases.
In a damning report into the scandal published earlier this month, Robert Francis QC suggested hiding information about poor care should become a criminal offence, as should failing to adhere to basic standards which lead to death or serious harm.
He recommended placing a statutory obligation on doctors and nurses for a duty of candour so they are open with patients about mistakes.
The report was a result of a public inquiry set up to examine why grave problems at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which ran Stafford Hospital, were not identified and acted upon sooner.
The poll findings come as health officials consult on whether or not to put the scandal-hit trust into administration.
The sector regulator Monitor is considering the move to “safeguard services for local patients”. It is consulting the Health Secretary and key organisations.
The process of administration would need to include a plan for reorganising health services in the area, which would then be put to public consultation. It would also need to be approved by the Secretary of State.
If the move goes ahead, the trust will be the first foundation trust in the country to be put under the charge of special administrators.
A report by Monitor earlier this year concluded the troubled trust was neither clinically nor financially sustainable in its current form in the long-term. However, existing patient services have been given a clean bill of health by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
David Bennett, Chief Executive of Monitor, said: “We are now consulting on whether to appoint Trust Special Administrators with the expertise to reorganise services in a way which is clinically robust and sustainable.
“Their priority will be to make sure that patients can continue to access the services that they need and they will work with the local community to do this.”
NHS boss Sir David Nicholson today refused to resign in light of the scandal. Nicholson had direct responsibility for the trust as head of its regional health authority for part of the period when patients were neglected and mistreated.
His comments came after a meeting of the board, which has the power to sack him over the failings at Stafford Hospital, declined to do so.
A man walked out of the NHS Commissioning Board meeting in disgust. Gerald Badley, 74, told ITV News the board's backing of Sir David was "disgraceful".
Last week Prime Minister David Cameron said Sir David had already acknowledged mistakes made by the authority under his leadership and "properly" apologised for them.
Health campaigners Cure the NHS staged a silent protest outside today’s meeting in Manchester.
Lead campaigner Julie Bailey, who set up Cure the NHS after her mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital in 2007, claimed neither the public nor staff in the NHS wanted Sir David to stay in his post.