This is The Telegraph -
Mid Staffs deaths: victims' families angry that police are yet to launch a criminal investigation
A week on from the publication of a damning report into the Mid Staffordshire “disaster”, victims’ families and MPs have demanded to know why police have still done nothing to investigate up to 1,200 needless deaths at the NHS trust.
10:00PM GMT 12 Feb 2013
The report’s author, Robert Francis QC, told a parliamentary committee there were “possibilities” for criminal charges to be brought for “individual manslaughter” or “offences in relation to wilful neglect of vulnerable people”.
Staffordshire Police said it had “no active investigations” into the deaths and was still “studying” the report, but campaigners said that after five official inquiries in as many years there was no longer any excuse for inaction.
Julie Bailey, founder of the Cure the NHS campaign group, which exposed the Mid Staffs scandal, said: “There should be a police inquiry and now we have got the Francis report, we will be looking to go after managers high up.
“The police need to concentrate on the managers who were responsible for such appalling standards of care on the wards, and were aware of what was going on.”
Deb Hazeldine, whose 67-year-old mother Ellen Linstead died at Stafford hospital, said: “If the evidence is there, they should be subject to criminal prosecution.
“If nobody is held to account, what message are we giving out to society? That 1,200 people don’t matter?”
She said prosecutions would be a “deterrent” to other NHS staff who were still failing to deliver adequate care.
Mr Francis, who conducted a 31-month public inquiry into the unnecessary deaths of between 400 and 1,200 people at Mid Staffs between 2005 and 2009, told the health select committee that NHS staff should be "held to account" for the scandal "where it is possible to do so".
He said: "At the moment you have opportunity for individual manslaughter charges, or there may be possibilities for offences in relation to wilful neglect of vulnerable people."
However, he warned that some of the "terrible things" that happened at the hospitals "don't necessarily fit easily into a criminal category".
He suggested there should be more "criminal sanctions" available to prosecutors.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, told The Daily Telegraph last week that the report had put “evidence in the public domain” which should form the basis of a police investigation.
He said it was “absolutely disgraceful” that no doctors, nurses or managers have been held to account for patients having to relieve themselves in their beds because no-one would take them to the loo, being left hungry and having to drink water from vases because they were so dehydrated.
Meanwhile Downing Street repeated the Prime Minister's earlier comments that: "We expect the justice system to prosecute those suspected of criminal acts, whether they take place in a hospital or anywhere else."
Chris Skidmore MP, a member of the health committee, said: “There is a risk this could become another Hillsborough if reports do not hold people to the law. This may be the end of the chapter but it is not the end of the story.
“I do feel there's a strong case for a criminal investigation. Those people who perpetrated the abuse should not be allowed to get away scot free.”
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “The events at Stafford Hospital have been a tragedy for the many families affected and our local communities. Like them, we are currently studying the report’s full contents.
“Whilst the five major inquiries – including two independent public inquiries - into the hospital highlighted many instances of unacceptable standards of patient care, at that time there was no evidence that the circumstances of any of the tragic deaths constituted a criminal offence under the law.
“The fact that public inquiries were commissioned indicates that a criminal investigation, using the legislation as it stood at that time, would not have been effective in uncovering the failings. This is supported by significant recommendations within the report to change the criminal law.
“We work closely with HM Coroner when cases relating to death in healthcare settings are referred to us. Officers carry out detailed reviews, liaising with the coroner’s office and, where necessary, the Crown Prosecution Service.”
A Home Office spokesman said the Home Secretary did not have the power to direct a police force to investigate a particular crime.