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NHS Trust pleads guilty.

THE NHS trust that ran Stafford Hospital has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with four deaths.

Charges were brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which is now defunct.

The charges relate to four allegations of health and safety breaches involving patients who died between October 2005 and May 2014. Although the Trust was dissolved in November 2014, it still exists as a legal entity.

A new trust started to run the hospital, now County Hospital, on 1 November 2014.

The HSE said the charges related to the deaths of: Patrick Daly, 89, on 13 May 2014; Edith Bourne, 83, on 22 July 2013, Ivy Bunn, 90, on 6 November 2008 and Lillian Tucker, 77 on 21 October 2005.

Three of the deaths occurred after falls, while the fourth was after a patient was given penicillin even though hospital staff had been told she was allergic to it.

Prosecutor, Bernard Thorogood, said: "Three of these individuals arrived at hospital vulnerable to falls, had falls and suffered injuries which are connected to the loss of life."

He added that poor record keeping and management problems led to a nursing sister administering penicillin to a patient who rapidly fell into a coma and died.

Speaking after the court hearing, special administrator for Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust,  Tim Rideout, said: "We have been working with the HSE since their decision to prosecute. I have made a commitment to bringing matters to a conclusion in the best interest of the families concerned."     

Stafford Hospital, which will be will be sentenced at Stafford Crown Court, was the subject of a report in March 2010 by the Health Care Commission which was highly critical of its care standards.

A public inquiry, by Robert Francis QC, said the failings went right to the top of the health service. He he made 290 recommendations, saying "fundamental change" was needed to prevent the public losing confidence.

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust have taken over the running of Stafford Hospital and Royal Stoke University Hospital.