NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards said trusts could limit damage to their reputations in the wake of criticism of Mid Staffordshire foundation trust by ensuring they had good internal assurance systems.

In addition, he said frontline health professionals had to ask themselves whether they would be happy for relatives to be cared for in their organisations.

He said: ”A question for the national leaders of these professions to ask is: ‘Are we focusing as much on the basics as we should be, and if we’re not, what is it about the system that’s stopping us?”’

Mr Edwards also highlighted the fact that the trust scored ”double good” in the most recent annual health check. ”There may be some interesting questions to be raised about the overall regulatory systems we have,” he said.

But he said the ”real custodians” of quality were trust boards - organisations claiming their top priority was safety had to ensure their actions lived up to that.

The signals managers sent out could show that they ”aren’t just bureaucrats” but ”caring professionals too”, he said.