Department of health guidance issued in January 2005 states: 'The start of local investigation processes and publication of reports should take place as soon as possible.'

'In circumstances where police investigations or other legal proceedings are ongoing, then the timings for these processes should be agreed with the local police or Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that the legal process is not undermined in any way, but that local NHS investigations can proceed as soon as possible.'

This was expanded in a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2006.

For SHA independent investigations, the 2005 guidance says only they 'should be set up as soon as possible'. The process should facilitate openness, learning lessons and creating change.