Frequently asked questions

Questions

Answers

  • What is the Inquiry about?

    The Inquiry has been set up to examine the commissioning, supervisory and regulatory organisations in relation to their monitoring role at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009.  The Inquiry will look at why the serious problems at the Trust were not identified and acted on sooner, to identify important lessons to be learnt for the future of patient care.  The full remit of the Inquiry is set out in its terms of reference.

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  • What is the format of the Inquiry?

     The Inquiry follows the requirements of the Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquiry Rules 2006.  Key tasks are:

    - Gathering and reviewing evidence, including the taking of witness statements – this began in July 2010; following the conclusion of the hearings, new evidence is now only accepted on an exceptional basis

    - Oral hearings – these began on 8 November 2010 in Stafford and concluded on 1 December 2011

    - Writing the final report

    In addition, the Inquiry held a series of seven seminars in October and November 2011, to explore the 'forward-looking' part of the Inquiry's terms of reference.  The Chairman has also undertaken a number of visits to observe and identify examples of good practice and provide him with some context in relation to NHS healthcare provision.

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  • What is the difference between this Inquiry and the previous inquiry?

    This is a Public Inquiry set up under the Inquiries Act 2005, whereas the first independent inquiry was set up under the NHS Act 2006.  

    The focus of this Public Inquiry, in accordance with its terms of reference, will be to look at the broader monitoring system in relation to Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.  It will not look at individual cases of patient care, or specifically at the internal operation of the Trust  as that was the focus of the first inquiry.

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  • What is a public inquiry and how does this differ from an inquiry under the NHS Act 2006?

    This Public Inquiry has been set up under the Inquiries Act 2005 and is subject to the requirements of the Act and the Inquiry Rules 2006.  The Chairman is required to take such steps as he thinks reasonable to secure public access to the hearings and evidence taken by the Inquiry.  He may also compel people to give evidence and has powers to require production of evidence  to the Inquiry.

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  • Why has the decision been taken to have an Inquiry now, and by whom?

    The Inquiry has been set up by the Secretary of State for Health, who announced it to Parliament on 9 June 2010.  The Secretary of State’s purpose in setting up the Inquiry is set out in his statement to the House of Commons, which can be found on the Department of Health’s website at:   http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/Speeches/DH_116653

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  • What is the timetable for the Inquiry?

    The Inquiry was announced on 9 June 2010.  The hearings ran from 8 November 2010 to 1 December 2011, and a series of seven seminars was also held in October and November 2011.  The Chairman then adjourned to complete the analysis of the evidence and to write the final report.  Following discussions with the Secretary of State for Health, the Chairman announced on 23 January 2013 that the report would be delivered on Tuesday 5 February 2013, to be published and laid before Parliament on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

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  • Where was the Inquiry held?

    The Inquiry's hearings were held at Stafford Borough Council's offices, at the Riverside in Stafford. 

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  • Were the Inquiry's hearings held in public?

    All oral hearings of submissions from interested parties and evidence from witnesses were held in public, unless there was a good reason in a particular instance for sitting in private that outweighed the public interest in the transparency of the proceedings.

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  • Why was the Inquiry held at Stafford Borough Council?

    The Inquiry was keen to hold its hearings as close as possible to the people most affected by the events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.  At the same time, the Inquiry has an obligation to conduct its proceedings efficiently and proportionately, as well as to do its best to meet the needs of members of the public, interested parties, witnesses and the media, and to have regard to the cost to the public purse. 

    The facilities at Stafford Borough Council enable the Inquiry to meet these requirements, whilst taking place as close as possible to the people of Stafford.

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  • Who gave evidence at the Inquiry hearings?

    The witnesses called to give evidence in person at the hearings were decided following review of the written evidence submitted.  In total, the Inquiry heard from 164 witnesses in person.  In addition, 87 witness statements and 39 provisional statements were 'read' into the Inquiry's record.  A list of witnesses and copies of the statements are available in the 'hearings' section of this website, along with transcripts of the evidence heard at the Inquiry's hearings. 

     

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  • Is there a timetable of witnesses who gave evidence?

    Yes, this is published on a regular basis on the Inquiry’s website.  Please look at the 'schedule' page in the 'hearings' section.

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  • Were members of the public and media able to attend the hearings?

    Yes, subject to the capacity constraints of the venue, members of the public and media were very welcome to attend all the public hearings.

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  • Have records of the Inquiry proceedings been made publicly available?

    Yes, transcripts of the hearings are published on the Inquiry’s website.  Please look on the 'transcripts and evidence' page in the 'hearings' section.

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  • Can the Inquiry compel people to provide evidence?

    Yes, the Inquiry Chairman has the power to compel individuals to provide evidence to the Inquiry. The Inquiry would only expect to use this power as a last resort.

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  • Will patients and families get a chance to have a say?

    The Inquiry Chairman is committed to ensuring the interests of families and patients are fully represented, as with all core participants. He has designated Cure the NHS, Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and the Patients Association as core participants to assist in this.

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  • How much will the Inquiry cost and who is paying?

    The budget for the Inquiry is provided by the Department of Health, as the Inquiry’s sponsor Department of State. The total cost of the Inquiry will depend, among other things, on the volume and complexity of the evidence received, the length of time needed to conduct the hearings, and the legal costs which the Inquiry funds. The Inquiry publishes its headline costs regularly on the Inquiry’s website.

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  • Who is chairing the Inquiry and to whom are they accountable?

    Robert Francis QC was appointed as Chairman to the Inquiry by the Secretary of State for Health. The Chairman must conduct the Inquiry in accordance with the provisions of the Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquiry Rules 2006, and will deliver his final report to the Secretary of State for Health.

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  • What arrangements have been made regarding the welfare of patients and families giving evidence?

    The Inquiry team is in regular contact with all those involved with the Inquiry, including patients and families, to ensure that appropriate support is in place. In particular, the Inquiry provides access to a confidential counselling service for witnesses and patient families. This will be available through a free phone number (0800 1116 391 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays).  This service is also able to signpost callers to local organisations if they would like to speak to somebody face to face.

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  • What should I do if I think I have information that may be useful to the Inquiry?

    Now the Inquiry has completed its hearings, new evidence is only being accepted on an exceptional basis.  If you believe you have evidence which the Inquiry should still consider, please contact the Inquiry team at:

    Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Room 204A, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London SE1 6LH (info@midstaffsinquiry.co.uk; tel 020 7972 5858)

    Where possible, the Inquiry team prefer to receive material electronically.

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  • Can I put in a Freedom of Information request for information relating to the Inquiry?

    The Inquiry is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, but will endeavour to conduct proceedings in an open and transparent manner.  As part of this, as much information as possible will be provided on this website.

    If you would like to submit a request for information, you can contact the Inquiry by email at: info@midstaffsinquiry.co.uk or through the contact form on the Inquiry’s website; by telephone on 020 7972 5858; or by post at: Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Room 204A Skipton House, 80 London Road, London SE1 6LH

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  • When will the Inquiry publish its final report?

    The Chairman announced on 23 January 2013 that he would deliver his final report to the Secretary of State for Health on Tuesday 5 February 2013, to be published and laid before Parliament on Wednesday 6 February 2013.  

    To ensure the Inquiry operates as openly as possible, the Chairman has made his planned timetable publicly available, so that witnesses, core participants and those following the Inquiry are aware of its next steps.  If there are any changes to this timetable, it will be updated on the Inquiry’s website.

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  • The Inquiry was announced in June 2010. Why is it taking so long to report?

    The volume of evidence received by the Inquiry is considerable, and gathering and analysing this has been an immensely complex and challenging task.  Throughout, it has been important for the Inquiry, as a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, to ensure it follows a proper and thorough process. 

    Since its announcement on 9 June 2010, the Inquiry has been through several important stages:

    - July to August 2010 – appointment of assessors and requesting of evidence

    - 8 November 2010to 1 December 2011– public hearings to explore the evidence of important witnesses and examine key documents

    - October to November 2011 – a series of seven public seminars to explore the ‘forward-looking’ part of the Inquiry’s terms of reference

    - December 2011 to February 2012 – a series of seven visits to healthcare organisations

    - December 2012 - appointment of four independent expert assessors to offer assistance to the Chairman in reviewing his proposed final recommendations

    - 23 January 2013 - the Inquiry announces that it will hand over the final report to the Secretary of State of Tuesday 5 February 2013, and publish the report on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

    Under Rule 13 of the Inquiry Rules 2006, the Inquiry is also required to issue and consider responses to any warning letters.  The report will then be finalised and the practical arrangements for its publication put in place.

    Throughout, the Inquiry has proceeded as quickly as possible and the Chairman has been clear he is keen to ensure his report is timely, helpful and relevant.  At the same time, the need to conclude quickly can never be at the expense of a fair, open and proper process.

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  • When will warning letters be issued and who will receive them?

    The Inquiry is required to issue warning letters to any individuals or organisations likely to receive criticism in the report, setting out the substance of that criticism and providing them with an opportunity to respond.

    Warning letters are confidential and neither the letters nor their content may be disclosed by the Inquiry team or by the recipient or their legal representative (if any), unless confidentiality is waived by the Chairman or otherwise in accordance with the Rules.

    As the process is confidential, the Inquiry will not be able to confirm whether and when the Rule 13 process has commenced.   

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  • Is the Inquiry still accepting new evidence?

    The Inquiry hearings have now closed, and the Chairman has announced that no further evidence will now be admitted unless, on application or other consideration, he considers there are exceptional reasons for doing so.

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  • The Chairman had previously expected to deliver his final report to the Secretary of State on Monday 15 October 2012. Why has this been delayed?

    Pulling together the report has proved a complex and sensitive process. In addition to considering the large volume of evidence gathered through witness statements, the hearings, the seminars and visits, there are formal processes to be carried out to ensure the conclusions and recommendations in the final report are both fair to the individuals and organisations concerned, and as helpful as possible to the Government in the context of the recent health reforms.

    It was clear the Chairman needed longer than his anticipated timetable in order to fulfil his terms of reference. His intention was therefore to deliver the report to the Secretary of State by January 2013. On 23 January 2013, following discussions with the Secretary of State, the Chairman announced that he would deliver his final report to the Secretary of State for Health on Tuesday 5 February 2013, to be published and laid before Parliament on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

    As before, to ensure the Inquiry acts as transparently as possible, the Chairman is making this timetable available publicly, so that witnesses, core participants and those following the Inquiry are aware of the Inquiry's next steps.

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  • Where can I find a copy of the Government response to the final report?

    A copy of the Governments response to the final report can be found here

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  • How can I recieve a hard copy of the final report?

    Please contact prolog on 0300 123 1002 who will be happy to help.

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