A full public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital was the result of a hard-fought battle that started in 2007. Here is a summary of how events unfolded:
- NOVEMBER 2007
Stafford resident Julie Bailey starts a campaign group called 'Cure the NHS' after seeing the poor care her mother, Bella, and other elderly patients received at Stafford Hospital. Julie says she was unable to let the suffering and abuse she saw continue. The 'Cure the NHS' group attracts many letters from others who experienced or witnessed similar abuse.
- MARCH 2008
The Healthcare Commission watchdog spends seven months investigating high death rates among patients at the hospital. It interviews 300 people including patients, relatives and past and present staff at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
- MARCH 2009
The Healthcare Commission publishes its report and condemns Stafford Hospital for "shocking" standards of care. The report finds that hundreds of patients may have died needlessly due to poor emergency care. It describes how patients were left in pain, or lying in soiled bedding, and not given the proper medication.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson apologises for what he calls the "unacceptable failures" and meets management and patients at the hospital.
Stafford Hospital Chief executive Martin Yeates and chairman Toni Brisby resign just days before the report is published.
- MAY 2009
The Cure the NHS group pushes for a public inquiry but MPs vote against it, arguing it will only distract staff. Julie Bailey begins proceedings calling for a judicial review.
Stafford Hospital launches a 107-point action plan of improvements.
- JULY 2009
Health Secretary Andy Burnham launches a second independent inquiry, but stops short of ordering a full public inquiry.
Antony Sumara, former boss of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, takes over as chief executive at Stafford Hospital.
- OCTOBER 2009
The Conservatives pledge to order a full public inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital if they win the next election. The Liberal Democrats follow suit.
Julie Bailey says she could stand in the next general election because the main parties are letting people down.
- NOVEMBER 2009
The second independent inquiry begins. The chair of the inquiry says it will encourage staff to be open about what went wrong, but relatives of those who died are furious the evidence is being heard behind closed doors.
Campaigners go to the High Court in pursuit of a public inquiry.
- FEBRUARY 2010
The second independent inquiry finds managers at Stafford Hospital put "targets ahead of treatment". Most basic care was neglected and patients were left unwashed, some for up to a month. Food and drink were left out of reach leaving patients hungry and thirsty. Some staff spoke of a bullying culture both in relation to hitting targets and when raising concerns over problems at the hospital.
- APRIL 2010
The Cure the NHS group goes national, providing advice for people across the country who are worried about their local health service.
- JUNE 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron announces that a public inquiry will be held into the failings at Stafford Hospital.
- NOVEMBER 2010
Chairman Robert Francis QC opens the public inquiry.
The trust which runs Stafford Hospital announces it will pay more than £1 million to 98 people whose relatives suffered poor care. It is believed to be the largest group payout by a hospital.