The NHS trust responsible for running Stafford Hospital has been fined £500,000.
Assessed by Stafford Crown Court, the court ultimately pointed to basic blunders leading to the death of four patients at the hospital.
The by now defunct Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust previously admitted four charges relating to elderly people who died between 2005 and 2014.
As the trust that no longer exists, and consequently has no funds available, the Department of Health stepped in to pay the fine, along with £35,000 of costs accumulated by the prosecution.
The judge at Stafford Crown Court likened the penalty for an organisation with no funds as similar to a “financial revolving door”.
Meanwhile, a spokesman representing the former trust located in the Midlands expressed extreme remorse and regret toward everyone involved in the incident.
Three of the victims from the Stafford Hospital incident died after falling at the hospital. The fourth, Lilian Tucker died after being given penicillin, which had been an inappropriate application of medicine.
Tucker was ultimately injected with penicillin despite the fact that both herself and her family had repeatedly warned the hospital that she was allergic to the antibiotic.
The case was initially brought forward by the Health and Safety Executive, after it was discovered that there were major failings at the Midlands-based institution.
Assessing the case, the Crown Court received evidence which indicated that measures put in place by the trust were inadequate to prevent the deaths of Lillian Tucker, Ivy Bunn and Patrick Daly.
Mrs Bunn, 90, and 89-year-old Mr Daly died after suffering falls following poor care, including failures to carry out risk assessments and put in place control measures.
A fourth vulnerable patient – 83-year-old Edith Bourne – also died following a fall but pathological evidence could not conclusively connect mistakes in her care to her death.
Commenting on the investigation and its outcome, the special administrator of the Mid Staffordshire trust, Tim Rideout, showed significant remorse and also indicated his acceptance that the trust had fallen short of the standards required.
“On behalf of the trust I would like to apologise unreservedly for the shortcomings which have come to light and to place on record our sincere contrition and remorse. Today, Stafford Hospital, now named County Hospital, is run by a different organisation entirely, providing very different services.”
Following the level of negative publicity that the case has garnered since it first came to light at the end of the previous decade, the institution has since been renamed County Hospital.
Problems continue to mount up for Stafford Hospital, after police launched a probe into the death of a 3-year-old boy at the beleaguered institution.
This could hardly come at a worse time for the hospital considering that it is also fielding a probe into one of the worst scandals in the history of the NHS.
And the latest issue involves rather alarming claims regarding the falsification of statements.
It has been suggested that statements from healthcare staff who directly witnessed this death have been falsified.
And the parents of the 3-year-old boy in question, named Jonnie Meek, believe attempts were also made to alter their son’s medical history to include events such as cardiac arrests that they insist did not occur.
Meek passed away in August last year.
Stafford Hospital has already been placed at the centre of a public enquiry into claims of extremely poor care, which potentially affected hundreds of patients.
In this latest case, one particular healthcare assistant has come forward with accusations related to false statements.
Lauren Tew, who was present when Meek died, told the Health Service Journal that a false statement was attributed to her name in an attempt to “cover up” events.
The statement formed part of a hearing that was overseen by Staffordshire’s statutory child death overview panel.
This panel is responsible for reviewing information on all unexpected child deaths.
Meanwhile, Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group and Staffordshire Police have already confirmed that they will be carrying out an independent investigation into the matter.
Meek was born with the rare congenital disability de Grouchy syndrome, and both of his parents believe that their son died due to an adverse reaction to a drip feed.
Mother April Keeling claimed that staff ignored her concerns.
Furthermore, the family also states that they learned of the incredible deceit on the behalf of the Stafford healthcare system via Freedom of information requests.
Speaking about their investigation, North Midlands chief executive Mark Hackett said: “It is important that this incredibly sad incident, which took place at Mid Staffs before the integration, is investigated as thoroughly and as swiftly as possible.
“It is for this reason that we have paused our own independent investigation to allow us to support the CCG investigation. I would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Jonnie Meek.”
University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust, which now runs Stafford Hospital, is also undertaking its own investigation.
Media reports today indicate that the system of checks related to nurses and midwives is about to be significantly changed.
The new plans have been instigated in the context of the so-called mid-Staffordshire scandal.
An estimated 400-1,200 patients died as a result of poor care over the 50 months between January 2005 and March 2009 at Stafford hospital.
As a result of the fallout from this case, nurses and midwives will now undergo checks every three years.
NHS watchdogs indicated that the reforms, which will be officially announced on Thursday 8th October, will constitute the biggest change in the history of the regulation of nurses.
The new regulations were considered essential in order to ensure that poor standards were not replicated on a wider scale in the NHS.
As a result of the new system of checks, nurses will be required to provide evidence demonstrating that they are both skilled and compassionate.
This can include feedback from patients, managers and fellow members of staff.
The new regulations are a first for the nursing profession, as it had previously been standard practice for workers in this sector to declare themselves fit for work without third-party evidence as support.
But recommendations from the public enquiry into the Staffordshire scandal have led to this new system of checks and balances.
The new system will be implemented by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and will further require nurses to prove to regulators is that their professional skills are adequate, and that regular training has been undertaken in order to ensure complicity with contemporary practices.
Nearly 700,000 registered nurses and midwives in the UK will be subjected to the checks.
It has been pointed out with regard to the decision that it would generally not be expected for an individual to be present on a professional register for several decades without significant checks on their ability to conduct their duties.
Yet this was precisely the situation for nurses ahead of this new regulation and legislative measure.
In particular, nurses will be tested against the code of conduct of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
And the hierarchy of the council has already placed a particular emphasis on the importance of patient feedback.
It is clear that this measure is intended to restore public confidence in the health service, and also to ensure that nurses and midwives engage more readily with the general public.
Sir Robert Francis QC called for the system of “revalidation” two and a half years ago, in his public inquiry into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation trust.
And it seems that the radical overhaul recommended by Francis is now ready to be implemented.