Three face action on care 'failures' during Stafford Hospital scandal
THREE NHS managers will face public disciplinary hearings over their alleged failings during the Stafford Hospital scandal.
The un-named doctors will be the first managers to face the possibility of formal sanctions over the appalling standards of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009.
But campaigners say more staff members should be held accountable for the failures, which saw up to 1,200 patients die unnecessarily.
The long-awaited report on the scandal – to be published on Wednesday – is expected to recommend widespread changes to the NHS.
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But it has emerged the three doctors, who were acting as managers at the time, and another doctor are to appear before a General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practise panel.
The GMC has carried out a long-running investigation into allegations that the doctors failed to ensure the safe care of patients.
They could be struck off or have restrictions on their licences.
Cure the NHS founder Julie Bailey, of Stafford, below, fears the disciplinary hearings could be a case of 'too little, too late'.
She said: "It's been four years since the Healthcare Commission identified serious failures by managers at Stafford Hospital. But there were also failures by clinicians.
"I know managers were responsible, but why weren't the clinicians raising concerns? We had all these deaths at the hospital, but nobody spoke out.
"These hearings will be long after the public inquiry, and so they won't get as much attention – but I will be watching them closely.
"But I fear that nobody will ever be held accountable for what happened at Stafford Hospital. Until everyone in the NHS knows they will be held accountable for their behaviour, I don't think anything will ever change. At the moment it seems that it's only those who raise concerns who are disciplined."
It is claimed that complaints against 41 doctors and at least 29 nurses at Stafford were sent to professional bodies, but none were struck off.
This is despite the trust paying out more than £1 million in compensation to 120 victims of abuse or their families.
Stafford Hospital Inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC will publish his final report, after hearing 139 days of evidence on the scandal.
He is expected to call for major NHS reforms, including controls to identify and remove bad managers, and an improved training programme for nurses and assistants.
Ms Bailey, whose 86-year-old mother Bella died at the hospital, added: "Hopefully the inquiry will change things and make people more accountable. I don't think anything will change until that happens."
Cure the NHS member Ken Lownds said: "The GMC can be tortuously slow in dealing with these matters, so it could be that these managers were reported a long time ago, and it's only just become known now.
"But it is important individuals are held to account. The Stafford Hospital disaster was the result of failures of doctors, nurses and others."