'No one wants to work in Stafford' - the damning words of Staffordshire health chief as it emerged the county is facing a shortage of 85 nurses and midwives.
Andy Donald, head of Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), was speaking as he was grilled by councillors amid concerns the group is not doing enough to protect services.
But he insisted the recruitment problem will resolve itself when the trust that runs the hospital is dissolved.
Mr Donald told the health scrutiny committee meeting: "The reality is no-one wants to work in Stafford at the moment. It's very difficult to get people to work in the hospital.
"When we dissolve the trust that will change.
"The hospital is quite safe at the moment but it is so difficult to recruit. People don't want the hospital on their CV."
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Mr Donald was questioned alongside Dr Anne-Marie Houlder, who is chair of the CCG's governing body.
He revealed that the majority of the CCG's time in the past 15 months had been spent sorting out issues at Stafford. The body, which is made up of GPs, is also tasked with responsibility for most of the area's health service, including hospital care,
emergency treatment, mental health and learning disability service.
"You don't understand the amount of time that has been taken sorting out the hospital. It has been a torrid time, especially for the people that work there," he said.
"Anne-Marie and myself have spent most of our time dealing with the hospital."
It was recently revealed that the CCG is in £9.6m of debt. Mr Donald said all that money had been spent on patient care.
Stafford and Surrounds CCG is made up of 14 GP practices.
Around £220m is being spent on the restructure of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, including on new facilities in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Cannock, Stafford and Stoke.
Plans are in place to downgrade Stafford Hospital’s A&E department and remove paediatric services as well as critical and urgent care. Some services will be transferred to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke.
Stafford Borough Council leader Mike Heenan said: "It's been very useful tonight."Subscribe to our Newsletter