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Care scandal report to be published
The much-anticipated report from the public inquiry into serious failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to be published.
The landmark report is expected to propose wide-ranging reforms of the NHS. It has been suggested that chair of the inquiry Robert Francis QC will recommend that hospitals should face tough new scrutiny by teams of inspectors which include doctors and nurses.
The move will form part of an overhaul of the array of regulatory bodies that failed to detect failings in patient care at the trust, it has been reported.
It is also expected that Mr Francis, a specialist in medical legal issues, will recommend a "duty of candour" that would see fines or threat of closure used against hospitals that fail to tell their patients if their treatment went wrong.
The public inquiry was ordered after it was revealed that between 400 and 1,200 people more people died than expected at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009 amid "appalling" standards of care.
Patients were left for hours sitting in their own faeces, food and drink was left out of reach and hygiene was so poor that relatives had to clean toilets themselves. In addition to basic care errors there was a string of clinical blunders including botched operations, misdiagnoses and drugs were not given or given late.
Mr Francis's first report, drawn from the independent inquiry he chaired between 2009 and 2010, concluded that patients were "routinely neglected" while the trust was preoccupied with cost-cutting and targets. Concerns have been raised that other organisations may suffer the same fate amid the NHS £20 billion efficiency drive.
Cases of poor care standards at the trust are still surfacing. Last week the trust confirmed that an employee at Stafford Hospital was suspended after taking photographs of patients and the week before it emerged that police were investigating after a baby was found with a dummy taped into its mouth.
Human rights lawyer Emma Jones said her firm Leigh Day is investigating claims of abuse at 10 other hospitals.
Ms Jones, who represented 120 victims of abuse at the trust, said: "Every day abuse against patients takes place, and it is usually the most vulnerable who suffer and without widespread reform it will continue... These issues need to be addressed and reforms put into place as a matter of urgency to ensure such a situation does not arise again."