Stafford Hospital Inquiry: Watchdog felt 'duped'

image captionHundreds of "unexpected" deaths occurred at Stafford Hospital

A councillor involved in scrutinising the work of Stafford Hospital during the time a high number of deaths occurred there said she feels "duped" by the then NHS Trust management.

Janet Eagland, Staffordshire County's Health Scrutiny Committee vice chair until 2009, said she relied on management reports for information.

She said the committee "expects and did expect the truth" but did not get it.

Mrs Eagland was giving evidence to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Inquiry.

The inquiry, taking place in Stafford, is looking into a higher-than-expected number of deaths at the hospital between 2005 and 2008.

Mrs Eagland, who succeeded to the chairmanship of the county council's health scrutiny committee two years ago, said the watchdog still relied on hospital managers to tell them the truth.

'Very angry'

Speaking about the period 2005-9, Mrs Eagland told the inquiry she personally had received no complaints from residents about hospitals in the county, and had relied on reports from the former NHS Mid-Staffordshire Trust chief executive Martin Yeates and its chair Toni Brisby.

Mrs Eagland said: "In hindsight, after what's happened I don't feel that I've any kind feelings towards these people, the chief exec and the chair.

"I think they duped us and I'm very angry about it."

She told the inquiry the scrutiny committee could have done more to investigate the situation once fears were raised.

She said: "I feel very, very sorry about what's been happening at the hospital and I feel for the people that lost loved ones."

'Spinning a yarn'

Asked about whether the committee had contacted the health complaints service PALS she told the inquiry they had not, adding that they had not contacted the now defunct Public & Patient Involvement Forum either.

She said she had been under the impression that it was the job of the district council.

When asked about the current situation, Mrs Eagland said that they have a better relationship with the present management at Stafford Hospital.

But asked how she knew that the current management were not "spinning a yarn" she said, "we rely on honesty".

She also told the inquiry her committee had not asked to see any data about complaints.

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