SENIOR nurses need to become more like ‘formidable’ old-style matrons to prevent a repeat of the ‘appalling’ care suffered by patients at a neighbouring hospital says a county health expert.

Retired county hospital physician and former Wyre Forest MP Dr Richard Taylor has welcomed a "zero tolerance" approach to poor care after "appalling" failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which runs Stafford Hospital.

Yesterday the chairman of the £13 million inquiry Robert Francis QC published his final report.

In it he made 290 sweeping recommendations for healthcare regulators, providers and the Government, including that hospitals which failed to comply with a "fundamental standard" should be forced to close. Healthcare providers should also be liable for prosecution if they fail to comply with standards. David Cameron has also announced the creation of a new post – Chief Inspector of Hospitals. There will be a statutory obligation on doctors and nurses for a duty of candour so they are open about mistakes.

Dr Taylor believes the whole NHS complaints process is ‘useless’ and needs to be reformed. He welcomed the extra support for whistle-blowers, the subject of a private members bill he tried to bring through Parliament as an MP. Dr Taylor also welcomed focus on nursing leadership and said Tony Blair did ‘tremendous harm’ by abolishing the old style ‘proper’ matrons who provided ‘a very formidable presence’ and ‘kept staff on their toes’.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said MPs needed to play a greater role in flagging up problems.

“No-one should ever have to fear going to hospital,” he said. “Clearly Stafford was an exceptional case and the fundamental thing it shows is that patient care must be the focus. Thankfully in Worcestershire the vast majority of people going to hospital come out with a positive view.”

A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said leaders wound now consider the recommendations with patients and staff.

  • Below, Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, tells BBC4 Today presenter John Humphrys that he feels "saddened and ashamed" that the NHS has let down people who alleged to have been mistreated at the Mid Staffordshire hospital.