Stafford Hospital public inquiry date set

Image caption,
The watchdog has since found considerable progress at the hospital

A date has been set for a public inquiry which will look into failings at Stafford Hospital.

The Conservatives promised the probe in opposition after the health watchdog said "appalling" standards had caused needless deaths.

Inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC said it would start with opening statements on Monday 8 November and hear evidence the following week.

He hoped it would identify "broader lessons" for the NHS's future.

Mr Francis said he was committed to carrying out an independent, evidence-based, transparent process.

'Candid and reflective'

He said it would build on the work of his earlier independent inquiry which investigated care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009.

"I believe this is an important opportunity to contribute to the improvement of standards in the NHS and the protection of the public, building on the lessons from Mid Staffordshire," he said.

"My aim is that, through an open, candid and reflective consideration of the events at Mid Staffordshire, the inquiry will be able to make recommendations which will assist to shape the regulatory, supervisory and commissioning structures of the NHS of the future."

Campaigners called for a public inquiry after the former Healthcare Commission said in 2009 about 400 more people died at the hospital between 2005 and 2008 than would have been expected.

Despite two previous inquiries, campaigners demanded a public inquiry which would compel witnesses to attend and be cross-examined.

They took the podium at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday to thank Health Secretary Andrew Lansley for allowing one to be held.

In July, the health watchdog said Stafford Hospital had made considerable progress since the damning report of 2009.

The Care Quality Commission's report said the trust had worked hard to address issues.

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