Published Fri, 2010-12-10 18:19; updated 1 year ago.

The then Secretary of State for Health told campaigners involved in complaints over standards of care at Stafford Hospital that lessons had to be learned.

Andy Burnham is said to have written to Cure the NHS founder Julie Bailey in February 2010 in response to a letter objecting to a previous inquiry, which was held in private.

Cure the NHS member Ken Lownds, giving evidence to Day 20 of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, said he had drafted the letter to Mr Burnham referring to the ‘secretive’ inquiry into events at Stafford Hospital, and complaining about staff and management at the hospital.

Counsel to the Inquiry, Tom Kark, read out the letter which Ms Bailey received from Mr Burnham at the Department of Health, dated 10 February 2010.

Mr Kark, in quoting from the correspondence, said: “The events at Mid Staffordshire were appalling and I am acutely aware of the devastating effect that has had on families such as yours and on the wider community."

And, in referring to the independent inquiry, he added: "We remain determined to learn all of the lessons from what happened at Mid Staffordshire and, in building on the earlier reports, the inquiry will mark a further important step on that journey.”

Mr Lownds said he doubted whether any of the correspondence from Cure had ever reached Mr Burnham’s desk.

“The government, we felt right from after that meeting with (previous Health Secretary) Alan Johnson, were not listening, were not interested, wanted to paint the whole issue as a one-off of local management failure.”

The inquiry was told that Cure the NHS wrote again to Mr Burnham in March 2010 accusing him of having ‘missed a major opportunity to lead the NHS into a new era of 'zero harm, right first time' care’.

Mr Lownds added that, throughout 2009, Andrew Lansley, who is now Secretary of State for Health, had visited the group “probably half a dozen” times and had listened very carefully to what they all had to say.

He also said that future Prime Minister David Cameron visited in May 2009 during which he talked about a public inquiry.

Mr Lownds said: “It was made clear to us that should they win the election in May 2010, that they would continue that dialogue with the group. And that did, in fact, happen.”

The inquiry is due to resume on Monday, 13 December.