The man at the centre of the Stafford Hospital enquiry has admitted he thought about taking his own life after the scandal broke.
Martin Yeates, former chief executive of the hospital where standards of care were found to be appalling, said he had lost his career, family and health.
Mr Yeates, deemed too ill to attend the inquiry, gave his account of events in a 51-page witness statement which was read out.
He said: “I put my life and soul into improving and turning the organisation from one that was failing to one that had a bright challenging future. In retrospect, my family, friends, colleagues, my home, my health and my career have been broken irretrievably from the time at Stafford.”
Mr Yeates made repeated claims that the hospital had ‘turned the corner’ when the Health Commission’s investigation in 2008 stopped progress.
The Commission reported that hundreds of patients may have died needlessly at the hospital between 2005 and 2009.
Mr Yeates, who resigned from his post in May 2009 with a reported pay-off and pension pot totalling more than £400,000, said he was hounded by the press and campaigners in what he described as a ‘genuine living nightmare’.
He said: “My ill health and genuine consideration of taking my own life on a number of occasions has been a consequence, not of the hard work and challenge of a difficult job but the impact of the investigation, the immediate aftermath and the continued harassment nearly three years after the event.”
Also giving evidence at the inquiry was former chairman of the board Toni Brisby.
Speaking from a room away from the public enquiry, she said day-to-day operations were not her responsibilty.
When asked about the Trust’s poor record of errors not being reported she said it was the responsibilty of Mr Yeates and the executive team.
She added: “We were getting a lot of data from every direction and the picture was the Trust was not actually doing badly at all and then the Healthcare Commission came like a bombshell and completely reversed all of that.”
Mrs Brisby said she would not have resigned from the position in 2009 if she had not been pushed.
Throughout her evidence there were gasps, heckles and comments from people observing in the public gallery.
Asked if she had anything to add Mrs Brisby said: “I apologise absolutely unreservedly to anyone who received bad practice.
"It’s not acceptable. But equally I think it’s not acceptable to vilify a hospital the way Stafford Hospital has been vilified on the basis of relatively shaky evidence from the Healthcare Commission.”
The inquiry continues.