Incentives which mean it is better for NHS managers to allow standards of care at hospitals to fall rather than admit they are failing led to the scandal at Stafford Hospital, a health service expert has said.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Roger Taylor, co-founder of the health information service Dr Foster, said every incentive in the NHS system pushes NHS chief executives to "cut costs" and "cross (their) fingers".
"As an NHS chief executive in that situation, you could simply overspend and breach your targets - and quite likely lose your job.
"You could try to argue to reorganise services but you are likely to face considerable opposition from both clinicians and the public.
"Or you can just cut costs, cross your fingers and hope that no one notices if the standards of care deteriorate."
His warning comes ahead of tomorrow's publication of a report into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009, during which up to 1,200 extra deaths may have occurred.