Stafford Hospital report calls for 'zero tolerance' approach to poor care

A hospital ward in Stafford Hospital Credit: ITV Central

A public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of patients has called for a "zero tolerance" approach to poor standards of care.

Inquiry chair Robert Francis QC said there had been a "failure of the NHS system at every level" and paid tribute to the patients and relatives who brought the abuses to light.

Speaking in the Commons, the Prime Minister said a "precious principal of British life was broken in Mid Staffordshire". Both Mr Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband apologised to the families involved on behalf of their parties.

In the wake of the report, the NHS Commissioning Board announced announced that five trusts were to be investigated for their high mortality rates.

But for many of the relatives who have spent years campaigning for a public inquiry, the report did not go far enough.

ITV News' Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports:

The Francis report makes 290 recommendations for healthcare regulators, providers and government.

It recommends a list of "fundamental standards" of patient care and says NHS organisations that fail to live up to these should face closure.

The report also calls for a legal obligation for medics to be truthful with patients when things go wrong, and for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to act as a single regulator for the NHS.

Read: Key recommendations of NHS Mid Staffordshire public inquiry

But many of the relatives who saw loved ones suffer neglect were disappointed that the report did not hold any individuals accountable for what went wrong.

Julie Bailey, who started the Cure the NHS campaign group after her mother died at Stafford Hospital, called on the NHS chief Sir David Nicholson to resign.

At the time of the abuses, Sir David was in charge of the strategic health authority which set targets for the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

Read: Stafford Hospital: Timeline of events

He told ITV News he was not apologetic about still being in office. He also admitted he had visited Stafford Hospital on several occasions but never witnessed any problems:

The current chief executive of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, Lynn Hill-Tout, welcomed the recommendations in the Francis report.

She took over at the trust in 2011, before the initial damning report, and said she would be happy for her 90-year-old mother to be a patient at Stafford Hospital today.

I'd like to thanks Robert Francis for the report and all the witnesses who gave evidence, and indeed the families who fought to get both public inquiries ... Our whole aim [at the trust is] ... to put right the wrongs of the past and do a great job for its current patients.

But despite years of scrutiny, some do not share her confidence about the standards of care at Stafford Hospital.

ITV News' Midlands Correspondent Rupert Evelyn spoke to some of the people who have experienced problems more recently:

The head of the NHS Confederation called it a "sad and shameful day" for the NHS and pledged a relentless drive to repair damage to public confidence.

CQC chief David Behan said that whilst the report "strengthens" his organisation's role as a regulator, it must be "much better at identifying and challenging poor care".

The CQC outlined a series of reforms it would make, including the possibility of using teams of specialist inspectors to visit hospitals around the country.