Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Minister rejects hospital inquiry


Mr Johnson blames bad management

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has rejected calls for a public inquiry into "appalling" standards of emergency care at Stafford Hospital.

During a visit to the hospital he said an independent inquiry into its failings had already been conducted by NHS Watchdog the Healthcare Commission.

It said 400 more people died than would be expected and managers put targets ahead of patient care.

Mr Johnson said he was meeting staff and patient groups at the hospital.

He said he was invited by the town's Labour MP David Kidney.

Professor Sir George Alberti, National Clinical Director for Emergency Access, began an independent review of Stafford Hospital and its trust on Wednesday.

Staffordshire General Hospital
Mr Johnson said the hospital now had more than 100 extra nurses

Families and MPs have called for a full public inquiry to be held into the hospital's failings.

But Mr Johnson said: "We have made it absolutely clear that the independent inquiry was the Healthcare Commission and the Healthcare Commission was set up precisely to be independent, to monitor these issues, to go in and get behind the statistics and they've done their job very well."

He said the hospital's problems were down to "chronic understaffing and poor management" but accepted the Healthcare Commission's view that things had since improved.

He said there were now three more consultants, 14 extra housekeepers, nine additional matrons, more than 100 more nurses and 36 extra doctors in the department.

Former chief executive Martin Yeates is currently suspended on full pay but Mr Johnson again rejected calls for him to be sacked.

He said: "I want due process to go on here i want everyone to be treated fairly including the previous chief executive."

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