Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised to "every family that has suffered" as a result of "terrible failures" at Furness General Hospital.
A report published today said a "lethal mix" of problems at the "seriously dysfunctional" maternity unit led to the deaths of 11 babies and one mother.
He described the failings as like a "second Mid Staffs", in reference to the Mid Staffs Hospital scandal, where at least 1,200 patients died because of poor care.
Mr Hunt, who ordered the inquiry, paid tribute to the "courage" of families in their fight for the truth and said they should have been issued an apology earlier.
The Health Secretary said the failings had left "indescribable anguish for the families left behind", adding: "There is no greater pain for a parent than to lose a child and to do so knowing it was because of mistakes that we now know were covered up makes the agony even worse."
Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust have apologised "unreservedly" to the families who suffered as a result of failures in one of its hospital's "seriously dysfunctional" maternity units.
Pearse Butler, Chair of the Trust Board, said: "This Trust made some very serious mistakes in the way it cared for mothers and their babies.
"More than that, the same mistakes were repeated. And after making those mistakes, there was a lack of openness from the Trust in acknowledging to families what had happened.
"For these reasons, on behalf of the Trust, I apologise unreservedly to the families concerned. I'm deeply sorry that so many people have suffered as a result of these mistakes."
The Chairman of the Morecambe Bay Investigation, Dr Bill Kirkup, has said there was a "disturbing catalogue of missed opportunities" at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
He said had proper investigations into serious incidents been conducted as far back as 2004 it would have raised the alarm about the level of maternity and paediatric care being provided.
"There was a disturbing catalogue of missed opportunities, initially and most significantly by the Trust but subsequently involving the North West Strategic Health Authority, the Care Quality Commission, Monitor, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Department of Health," Dr Kirkup said.
"Over the next three years, there were at least seven opportunities to intervene that were missed. The result was that no effective action was taken until the beginning of 2012."
Persistent failures at a maternity unit contributed to the unneccesary deaths of up to 30 infants and mothers, a report published today is expected to find.
The Morecambe Bay Investigation is set to claim that a "turf war" between midwives and doctors led to poor communications at the unit at Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Cumbria.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who ordered the inquiry, said at its launch in 2013 that the main aim was to uncover what went "desperately wrong" and ensure no repeat could take place.
Six midwives from Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, are facing disciplinary hearings by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the coming months.
In January 2014, one of the midwives received an 18-month interim suspensions following allegations over the care of a baby born in a "poor condition" the previous September.
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