Mike Farrar, chief executive, praised Robert Francis QC, chair of the public inquiry, for producing a forensic ward-to-Whitehall analysis of one of the NHS's biggest failures.
Mr Farrar said:
"This is a hard hitting but fair analysis of what happened in Mid Staffordshire and that is exactly what we needed. Crucially, Mr Francis has offered us a forensic ward-to-Whitehall assessment of one of the biggest failings in the NHS.
"He has set out proposals for getting the whole system behind one core objective: putting patients at the centre of the NHS. That objective is something that we should all applaud. Everyone in the NHS must now consider these recommendations and find ways of acting on them.
"There will of course be practicalities, including cost effectiveness and whether all recommendations do what they say on the tin. But let's not lose sight of the big picture. This is an opportunity to make the NHS safer, more compassionate and fully accountable to the people it serves.
"We particularly welcome: the focus on culture, not on structures; on making our regulatory system more effective; on strengthening local commissioning which now has clear responsibility for driving improvement; on transparency and candour; and on listening to staff and patients and acting on their concerns.
"We owe it to every patient, family member and carer to commit to making sure these sorts of tragedies do not happen again. It is up to all of us in the NHS to take responsibility for putting things right. We cannot externalise responsibility for standards of care to Government, politicians or regulators or anybody else.
"There are real opportunities in the newly emerging NHS to do things differently. We need to shine a light into every corner of the NHS, giving patients more information and power over their local services. We must improve the culture in our organisations, embedding the core NHS values of care and compassion and making these a basic requirement for everyone working in the health service.
Mr Farrar added: "It is right that the Government now takes time to consider the report's recommendations. We will be working closely with our members to identify effective solutions to the problems we face. I strongly believe the Government should work with our members - and indeed all patient and staff groups - to find the right way forward."
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation, said:
"The sad and distressing treatment of patients and the failures highlighted by Robert Francis is a vivid reminder of the trust patients put in staff and what happens when we collectively fail to provide it.
“I am certain that this seminal report will mean we all take a long hard look at our leadership. It will require us to focus on zero harm and what that means at every level of NHS care. We have to continue to build staff confidence to allow them to raise concerns knowing they will be supported to do so. Away from the headlines, the NHS will need to examine approaches to recruitment, induction, training, development, appraisal, supervision and management to drive the cultural change needed.
“With the support of our workforce, we will be able to respond to Francis and the recommendations effectively - led by our common values and common purpose. If we get it right, Francis can become a byword for improvement rather than failure."