Falsifying death rates to become a crime

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Hospitals that give false information about death rates will face unlimited fines under a package of new powers aimed at preventing another Mid Staffordshire-style health scandal.

Ministers hope the new criminal offence, part of efforts to bring an end to NHS “cover-up culture”, will deter health chiefs from giving false or misleading statistics.

Care minister Norman Lamb said the laws would be a legacy of the campaign fought by those who suffered the “horrors” of failings at Stafford Hospital.

Legislation also sets out plans for a cap on the amount people will have to pay for social care.

A £72,000 limit will be introduced in 2016 and the threshold for financial assistance will be extended from £23,250 to £118,000 at the same time.

The Care Bill responds in part to Robert Francis’s report on the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which found that as many as 1,200 patients might have died needlessly after they were “routinely neglected”.

New powers will give the regulator Monitor the ability to intervene if the chief inspector of hospitals identifies problems with the quality of care.

Monitor will also be able, for the first time, to put a foundation trust into administration on clinical grounds.

Mr Lamb said: “The chief inspector of hospitals will be able to serve a notice which will ultimately end up, if nothing is done to address it, with the potential for the board or individual members to be removed and ultimately for the hospital trust to be put into administration.”