Health Secretary Alan Johnson has apologised to the families and patients who suffered appalling care at Stafford Hospital.
"He announced a review of current A&E services and a second inquiry to look at how long problems had been going on for at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
He said: "On behalf of the Government and the NHS I would like to apologise to the patients and families of patients who have suffered because of the poor standards of care at Stafford Hospital. There was a complete failure of management to address serious problems and monitor performance. This led to a totally unacceptable failure to treat emergency patients safely and with dignity."
Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over three years, a report said.
Although it is not clear how many of these deaths could have been avoided, the Healthcare Commission said patients undoubtedly suffered as a result of lapses in the standard of care.
Its investigation, based on more than 300 interviews and an examination of over 1,000 documents, found inadequately trained staff who were too few in number, junior doctors left alone in charge at night and patients left without food, drink or medication as their operations were repeatedly canceled.
Some patients were left in pain or needing the toilet, sat in soiled bedding for several hours at a time and were not given their regular medication, the Commission heard.
Receptionists with no medical training were expected to assess patients coming in to A&E, some of whom needed urgent care."
A service disaster.