Extra pressure could be put on Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital after steps were made for the trust that runs scandal-hit Stafford Hospital to be placed into special administration.
Two of the hospital’s bosses, Dr Lynne Hulme and Eleanor Chumley-Roberts, have now stepped down from the board after health regulator Monitor announced that it had begun steps to put the trust into special administration in a bid to “safeguard services” for patients.
But there were fresh concerns today that any cut in services at Stafford and Cannock would put even more pressure on New Cross, as well as Walsall Manor.
It is believed that Stafford’s accident and emergency, maternity and paediatric departments will cease to exist and that those services will be split between New Cross, Walsall Manor and University Hospital of North Staffordshire, in Stoke-on-Trent.
David Loughton, the chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross, did not confirm which services the hospital may take on, but said discussions were ongoing.
He added: “We have been in discussions with the people who are doing the work on reshaping services at Stafford but there’s no conclusion reached as yet. Things will be decided in the next few weeks.”
New Cross is already overflowing with too many patients in its A&E department.
It is currently seeing 40,000 more patients per year than the department was designed to take and is facing a fine of £750,000 for failing to meet target times because of the volume of patients.
More than 350 patients a day descended on the department during the busiest weeks over Christmas and Mr Loughton has previously called it “unfit for purpose”.
Around £1 million was spent last year on bringing the department up to scratch ahead of a new £25m A&E service being opened in 2015.
Since the news that Stafford Hospital’s trust could be put into special administration, a question marks hang over some Stafford Hospital services, with fears some units, such as accident and emergency, may move.
But Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he is ready to oppose A&E moving to hospitals in the Black Country.
Services rumoured to be going include A&E and Children’s Special Services.
“There’s a case for Children’s Special Services going to a bigger centre such as New Cross, but A&E absolutely has to stay where it is,” said Mr Lefroy.
“The Monitor report comes out on Tuesday, which will be guidance for the Trust Special Administrator, but it will then go to the Secretary of State, who can either reject or accept it.”
Mr Lefroy says he has a separate report on the trust alongside his working group, assessing what services should be retained.
“We say A&E is absolutely critical at Stafford. Other places couldn’t cope with it were the service to be moved, and Stafford and Cannock people would have to go much further afield for emergencies than I think is safe. Secondly, we’re saying the intensive care unit is also vital for the hospital.”
In a report to the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust presented yesterday, its chief executive Richard Kirby said: “Monitor’s Contingency Planning Team (CPT) have now reported on the future viability of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, concluding that the trust is not viable in the long term as an independent organisation.
“Since the last board meeting, we have continued to work with the CPT on options for providing services to the population currently served by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, especially in and around Cannock.
“Neighbouring trusts in Wolverhampton, Burton and Stoke have also been part of this work. Discussions to date with the Cannock Clinical Commissioning Group have stressed their interest in models of care that support the care of people in their own homes wherever possible.” MPs and council bosses have pledged to fight for services at both Stafford and Cannock hospitals.
First steps have been taken in the process of putting the Mid Staffordshire trust into the hands of administrators.
MPs in Staffordshire said it was now “crunch time” and they had to make a strong case to make sure emergency, acute and elective services were retained.
But news that watchdog Monitor has started a consultation over administration has sparked fresh fears for the future of the trust and its services. The blow comes weeks after the Francis Report laid bare the full scale of poor care at the trust between 2005 and 2008, which led to the deaths of up to 1,200 people at Stafford.