A scandal-hit hospital has paid out more than £1 million in compensation for “inhumane and degrading” treatment of patients, a lawyer has claimed.
Human rights solicitor Emma Jones, who is part of a legal team representing more than 100 victims of alleged abuse at Stafford Hospital, said that Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust paid out the significant sum to patients or their families.
The team at law firm Leigh Day made the compensation claims after arguing that the trust had breached the Human Rights Act. The news comes a month ahead of the publication of the report of the public inquiry into the serious failings at the trust.
Inquiry chair Robert Francis QC said the report will be published in January. The £11 million inquiry, which was commissioned in 2010, is examining what went wrong at the trust between January 2005 and March 2009.
In 2009, a separate highly-critical report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said “appalling standards” put patients at risk.
Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the Commission said.
Ms Jones said patients were left to sit in faeces for extended periods of time and food and drink were purposefully put out of reach with thirsty patients forced to drink water out of flower vases.
She said: “Having visited the families of those who died, or victims who survived the horrors of this hospital, you cannot help but become angry and extremely worried that this is happening elsewhere.”
Lyn Hill-Tout, chief executive at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust: “After detailed investigations in relation to the care given, the patients, their families and the Trust have reached an agreement.
“Sadly, we cannot undo the past or the harm that some of our patients and their relatives suffered as a result of terrible care when they were at their most vulnerable. However, it is important to stress that this does not reflect Stafford Hospital as it is today.”