The leader of the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry has been appointed chair of Healthwatch England.

In a statement released today, Healthwatch England announced Sir Robert Francis QC, who chaired the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry into systemic failings of care at the trust between 2005 and 2009, will take up the post from 1 October.

Sir Robert, who is a non-executive director at the Care Quality Commission and president of the Patients Association, replaces Jane Mordue, who has been at Healthwatch England since December 2015.

He said that with the health and care sector under “significant pressure” leaders need a “strong and independent” Healthwatch to help them hear what people are saying.

He added: “I have always been very clear in my work to date that those who run, commission and regulate services make the best decisions when they listen to and learn from the experiences of those they care for.

“With the health and care sector under significant pressure, they do need a strong and independent Healthwatch to help them hear what people are saying.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to amplify the voices of people who use the health and care system and to turn it into insight that will make a genuine difference where it matters most.”

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the appointment and said: “As chair of Healthwatch, I am confident he will ensure the views of patients sit right at the very heart of decision making in the NHS.”