The full extent of the proposed £70 million downgrading of both Stafford and Cannock hospitals can today be revealed.
Emergency surgery would no longer take place at scandal-hit Stafford, women would no longer give birth there and intensive care would be sent further afield.
The three-year programme of changes would also see a 24/7 A&E department return to Stafford but only for minor injuries, with around 50 per cent of cases sent elsewhere.
Some paediatric services would also be moved and the average ambulance journey time for people in Stafford would increase from eight minutes to 15.
One in five patients would be treated at Wolverhampton’s New Cross, Walsall Manor or University Hospital North Staffordshire under the changes proposed by health watchdog Monitor.
Bosses at Monitor said there had to be a “fundamental change” in clinical services at both hospitals but confirmed there should definitely be hospitals in the two towns.
Staff at Stafford and Cannock may find themselves relocated or out of a job altogether as part of the recommendations.
To cope with the influx of extra patients, the three other hospitals may get extra funding and new members of staff.
Monitor outlined its £70m vision for the future of services at Stafford and Cannock yesterday after being brought in to investigate the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Inspectors concluded that the trust was financially and clinically unsustainable.
The findings were today described as a “devastating” blow to both areas.
Mike Heenan, leader of Stafford Borough Council, said: “After all the traumas and difficulties this hospital has faced, the continual blow to morale of the hard-working members of staff, and the fact the hospital has made great strides to improve performance, demonstrated by recent statistics, this announcement will be seen as extremely unfair to all those involved in wanting to, and trying their best to, provide key hospital services to the people of Stafford.”
Gill Cooksley, director of the Contingency Planning Team sent in by Monitor, said: “Our recommendation is for a smaller local hospital in both Stafford and Cannock and what that will deliver is local access to the most regularly used services.”
It comes just days after steps were taken to consider putting the trust into the hands of special administrators.
If appointed, administrators would have to agree on whether to adopt the recommendations.