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Timeline: Stafford Hospital in crisis 2007-2010

This timeline takes a look at the history of Cure the NHS's campaign for a public inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital. This timeline goes up until the beginning of the public inquiry in November 2010.

See Stafford Hospital Inquiry page for updates since November 2010.

Back in November 2007, Stafford resident Julie Bailey set up the Cure the NHS campaign group after her mother Bella died in Stafford Hospital.

It took three years of campaigning, but finally, permission for a public inquiry was gained.

An earlier investigation, by NHS watchdog, the Healthcare Commission, concluded that 400 more people died at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008 than would be expected.

It said the hospital's "appalling" emergency care resulted in patients dying needlessly.


November 2010

November 15: First witness due to give evidence to the public inquiry.

November 8: Public inquiry chairman Robert Francis gives his opening statement.

November 1: The trust which runs Stafford Hospital announces it has agreed to pay more than £1m in compensation to 98 people for the poor care they or their relatives received. It is believed to be the largest group payout by a hospital.

October 2010

October 24: Stafford Hospital wins grant to change the way it deals with complaints. The new system means that local people will act as advocates for those who make a complaint. It is the first trust in the country to introduce the system.

September 2010

September 21: Staffordshire County Council announces it is to help Stafford Hospital clear a backlog of almost 200 complaints. The Trust promises to have it cleared by 1 December.

August 2010

August 31: After months of searching it is announced that the public inquiry is to be held at the borough council buildings in Stafford.

July 2010

July 20: Robert Francis QC holds the first hearing of the public inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital.

June 2010

June 9: Prime Minister David Cameron announces that a public inquiry will be held into the failings at Stafford Hospital.

He said the time had come to find out what went wrong, and why no-one raised the alarm about the abnormally high death rates at the hospital run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

April 2010
John Moore-Robinson
John Moore-Robinson died hours after being discharged from hospital

April 29: The Cure the NHS campaign group goes national.

The group holds an event in Stafford for people from across the country who are worried about their local health service.

They hand out advice for people to start similar campaigns where they live.

April 16: A man whose son died after being sent home from Stafford Hospital with a ruptured spleen wants police to investigate.

Frank Robinson's son, 20-year-old John Moore-Robinson, died in 2009 after staff there said he only had injured ribs.

March 2010
Jim Duff, husband of a Stafford Hospital patient who died in 2008
Jim Duff said he was sent a stranger's medical notes

March 24: Relatives of some of the patients who died at Stafford Hospital claim they were mistakenly sent strangers' patient case notes.

Stafford Primary Care Trust, which sent out the notes after they were released by the hospital, said it would investigate any complaints.

The Independent Case Note Review Team said people could be "confident" all the right medical notes had been reviewed.

March 16: It is revealed the Francis inquiry into Stafford Hospital cost taxpayers £1.7m.

March 11: Stafford's Labour MP writes to police to ask if there is a basis for a criminal inquiry into activities at the hospital.

February 2010
David Cameron
Tory leader David Cameron has promised a full public inquiry

February 24: The independent inquiry reports. It said the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust had become driven by targets and cost-cutting, and that poor care caused "unimaginable distress and suffering".

February 2: Campaigners from Cure the NHS meet the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, in Westminster.

Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats promise to hold a public inquiry if they get into power in the general election.

January 2010

January 31: The Observer newspaper claims that the final report of the independent inquiry will say that Stafford Hospital staff tried to silence whistleblowers.

It also says senior managers will be accused of promoting a culture of secrecy by actively discouraging staff from expressing fears about the safety of patients.

January 28: The hospital board suspends NHS executive Kate Levy after she asked for a fatal medical blunder not to be reported. In a statement, the hospital's new management said it was "appalled" that anyone would want to hide information.

She told a senior consultant to delete parts of a report blaming staff for the death of John Moore-Robinson. He died after a junior doctor failed to notice that he had ruptured his spleen.

January 6: Protesters gather outside the final day of the independent inquiry to repeat their calls for a public inquiry.

December 2009

December 17: The Care Quality Commission's latest report says the hospital is improving but needs to recruit more nurses.

December 3: The hospital is given £4.5m by the strategic health authority to help fund improvements.

December 2: Stafford Hospital bans all but one of its surgeons from doing gall bladder operations because of safety concerns after two patients die there.

November 2009
Stafford Hospital main entrance
The Dr Foster report says Stafford is one of the top five improved hospitals

November 30: The Dr Foster Hospital Guide names Stafford Hospital as the ninth best in England for patient safety, and among the country's top five most improved for in-hospital mortality.

November 2: The independent inquiry into care provided at the hospital begins. Managers at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust again apologise to families in its opening statement, saying it was sorry for any "distress" caused.

October 2009

October 15: The health service regulator, the Care Quality Commission, rates the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust as 'weak' in its latest report.

October 6: The Conservatives tell BBC Radio Stoke they will order a full public inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital if they win the next election.

October 1: Julie Bailey, who started the Cure the NHS campaign group, tells the BBC she could stand in the general election, claiming the main parties are letting people down.

September 2009

September 23: Chief executive Anthony Samara threatens to close wards at the hospital if they fail to make the grade.

He was speaking at the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust's annual general meeting.

September 15: The second independent inquiry into the failures of care at the hospital opens, but the Cure the NHS group claims it will not go far enough.

Campaigners say that it is unlikely to end with anyone being held to account, and that proceedings should 'not be held in private.

July 2009

July 21: The first progress report by the Quality Care Commission into Stafford Hospital says it is improving but it is early days.

It says mortality rates are showing early signs of improvement but says there are still areas which need to be improved.

July 21: Health Secretary Andy Burnham announces there is to be a second independent inquiry into the failings which led to hundreds of deaths at the hospital.

However, it is not the full public inquiry that Cure the NHS campaigners want. He also warns that the hospital trust could lose its foundation status.

July 17: Cure the NHS campaigners protest outside Health Secretary Andy Burnham's constituency office in Greater Manchester, as part of their campaign to get a public inquiry.

July 15: Antony Sumara is appointed as the new chief executive of Stafford Hospital. He is the former boss of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

Its new chairman is Sir Stephen Moss, who used to run the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.

June 2009
Andy Burnham
Campaigners protested outside the office of Labour's Andy Burnham

June 28: Josephine Ocloo from the World Health Organisation condemns progress to improve conditions at Stafford Hospital.

She says there is "little evidence" that the views of patients and the public are being taken seriously.

June 26: The Cure the NHS group writes an open letter to invite Health Secretary Andy Burnham to meet with them to hear about problems at the hospital for himself.

June 25: A ward is closed at Stafford Hospital because of an outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug.

June 24: Members of the Cure the NHS group meet Professor George Alberti and Dr David Colin-Thome face to face at a public meeting organised by the town's Labour MP David Kidney.

June 9: Andy Burnham tells BBC Radio Stoke that he will look at the issue of a public inquiry about Stafford Hospital's failings - but cannot promise one.

June 5: Alan Johnson is moved from health secretary to home secretary in Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle. Andy Burnham becomes health secretary.

May 2009
Cure the NHS campaign group
Julie Bailey and the Cure the NHS campaigners want a full public inquiry

May 28: The hospital launches its new 107-point action plan of improvements - which includes employing more nurses and doctors, investing millions of pounds in equipment, and facilities.

May 18: MPs vote against ordering a public inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital.

In a Commons debate, health minister Ben Bradshaw says it will take too long and distract staff who are working to make improvements.

May 15: Martin Yeates resigns as chief executive. One Sunday newspaper reports he will get a £400,000 payoff and a £1m pension pot.

The hospital confirms an independent into Martin Yeates' role in the hospital's failings will not be published.

May 5: The Cure the NHS group hold a public meeting in Stafford to discuss the campaign to get a public inquiry.

Julie Bailey says she has instructed solicitors to begin proceedings into getting a judicial review, because the government is continuing to ignore calls for a public inquiry.

April 2009

April 30: The Alberti and Thome reports are published. They show things were improving at the hospital but there were still problems with staffing and equipment.

April 30: The management team revise their action plan to include the recommendations of the Alberti and Thome reports.

The Care Quality Commission announces it will do three-monthly visits to check if improvements are being made.

April 16: Conservative leader David Cameron visits the hospital and gives his backing to calls for a public inquiry after meeting with the Cure the NHS group.

April 9: Acting chief executive Eric Morton outlines the hospital's plan of action for improvement.

April 1: The Healthcare Commission ceases to exist. It is replaced by the Care Quality Commission as the new independent regulator of all health and social care in England.

March 2009

March 26: Alan Johnson visits Stafford Hospital to meet management and patients. Despite feeling "extremely distressed" at what had happened, he insists Stafford is an isolated case.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley also visits the hospital later that day.

March 23: The Patients Association and campaign group Cure the NHS launch an online petition calling for a public inquiry into what went wrong at the hospital.

They are backed by Stafford's Labour MP David Kidney and Conservative MP for Stone Bill Cash.

March 18: The Healthcare Commission report is published.

It is damning of the hospital's standards of care, revealing that insufficient staff on the wards led to patients being left in soiled sheets, unfed and without the proper medication.

It shows life-saving equipment was switched off because nurses did not know how to use it and receptionists were asked to assess patients at A&E.

The watchdog says more than 400 more people died there between 2005 and 2008 than would be expected.

Alan Johnson
Labour's Alan Johnson said Stafford was an isolated case in the NHS

March 18: Health Secretary Alan Johnson apologises for the hospital's failings.

He commissions Professor George Alberti, National Clinical Director for Emergency Care, and Dr David Colin-Thome, National Clinical Director for Primary Care to do two separate investigations into the hospital.

March 9: Eric Morton, chief executive of Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is appointed as Stafford's interim chief executive.

David Stone becomes new interim chairman.

March 3: Chief executive Martin Yeates and chairman Toni Brisby resign just days before the results of the Healthcare Commission report is published.

It is later revealed that Martin Yeates has been suspended on full pay pending an internal investigation into his part in the hospital's failings.

February 2009

February: Stafford Hospital forced to close five wards because of the norovirus winter vomiting bug.

2008

October: The Healthcare Commission demands that Stafford Hospital takes immediate action to improve its accident and emergency department. The trust in charge of the hospital moves to employ more doctors and nurses for A&E.

May: The Healthcare Commission watchdog begins its investigation into unusually high death rates at the hospital.

February: Campaigners from the Cure the NHS group march on the offices of Stafford's Labour MP David Kidney to tell him vulnerable patients were being neglected on wards.

2007

November: Stafford resident Julie Bailey starts up the Cure the NHS campaign group after her mother Bella dies in Stafford Hospital. Stafford Hospital is part of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.




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