U.K. Report on NHS Failings Calls for ‘Zero Tolerance’

A lawyer who conducted an independent inquiry into why regulators and managers did not act on severe failures at a U.K. state-run National Health Service hospital called for a “zero tolerance” approach to poor care standards.

The public inquiry was the fifth probe into the operation of Stafford Hospital in central England, between 2005 and 2008, when hundreds of patients died from lack of care. Details of neglect previously published included patients being forced to drink from flower vases because they were denied water and crying out for pain relief.

The chairman of the inquiry, Robert Francis, made 290 recommendations for health-care regulators, providers and the government in his report, published in London today, which attacked local health authorities and the trust overseeing the hospital. He did not attribute blame to any one individual or organization.

Two previous reports found between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected at Stafford between 2005 and 2008, amid “appalling” standards of care. The inquiries criticized cost-cutting and a culture of target-chasing at the Mid-Staffordshire Trust, the body that ran the hospital.

Prime Minister David Cameron is due to make a statement to lawmakers on Francis’s findings at 12.30 p.m. in London.