In September 2007, Mrs Bella Bailey was admitted to Mid-Staffordshire NHS Hospital Trust. She was ill, but not dying. After the first few days her family were so shocked at her treatment and the neglect of other in-patients they started a 24 hour vigil by Mrs Bailey’s bedside. Despite this constant watch, after eight weeks Mrs Bailey had a fall in the hospital and was given a massive overdose of blood thinner by mistake. She died on November 8th 2007. Julie Bailey, her daughter, was sure that what she had witnessed were not isolated incidents. Julie wrote to the local press, asking whether other families had had similar experiences.
Over 40 people contacted her straight away and out of their shared experiences they formed a campaign group called ‘Cure the NHS’. After their second meeting, Julie wrote a six page letter to the (then) Healthcare Commission (HCC) (since replaced by the Care Quality Commission, CQC) outlining her mother’s experience, detailing other occurrences of neglect and a list of 66 examples of poor care that she and the other families had experienced. The HCC launched their investigation in May 2008 having realised that the hospital had unusually high death rates. The first result of this investigation was to demand better staffing in A&E, but this didn’t happen until October 2008. The HCC published their full report in March 2009, just days after mid-Staffs Hospital Chief Executive had been suspended and Chairman had resigned. Alan Johnson, the then Health Secretary apologised and launched two separate investigations. At his visit to the hospital days later he claimed that Mid-Staffordshire Hospital experiences were an ‘isolated case’.
Later that same month the Patients Association joined Cure the NHS to launch an online petition calling for a public inquiry into what went wrong at the hospital, backed by local MPs David Kidney and Bill Cash and later supported by David Cameron. The two investigations quickly reported back and showed that although things were improving, there were still issues around staffing and ability to use equipment. By then the HC had become the CQC and the latter announced they would visit the hospital every three months to check on progress.