Cynthia Bower was the chief executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, which ran the hospital at the height of its problems.
She expressed "deep sorrow" at the inquiry, saying patients had been let down.
Ms Bower was giving evidence at an inquiry into the hospital's failings.
It is looking at the role of regulatory bodies after a higher than expected number of deaths between 2005 and 2008.
The inquiry continues.
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