30 ambulances a day diverted from Stafford Hospital

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Around 30 ambulances a day are now being taken to other hospitals instead of Stafford following a cut in the number of beds available it has emerged.

People sent to other hospitals based on where their live and the situation has been described as a 'postcode lottery' by a councillor.

It comes after West Midlands Ambulance Service was asked to make alternative arrangements for 15 patients a day due to the hospital having fewer beds and a shortage of staff, on top of the 15 already diverted when Stafford's accident and emergency department is closed at night.

The night time arrangement has been in place since 2011.

Details were revealed at a meeting at Staffordshire County Council when ambulance service bosses took questions from councillors.

Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group, a group of GPs which plans, commissions and buys health services, made the decision, expected to be a temporary measure, after Stafford Hospital reported a shortage of nursing staff with about 60 beds being cut as a result.

Lee Washington, general manager for the ambulance service in Staffordshire, said: "It has been a complex and difficult procedure. The arrangements have been in place six weeks and have been working exceptionally well.

"We have re-aligned our boundaries by postcode to ensure we were not creating problems for staff at Stafford.

"It means University Hospital North Staffordshire gets three more patients a day, Burton gets two, Walsall Manor gets two and New Cross in Wolverhampton gets five or six more."


See also: A&E and child outpatient cases rise at troubled Stafford hospital.

Although those figures do not add up to 15, he confirmed it was an average of around 15 per day that the ambulance service was requested to take elsewhere following meetings with Stafford Hospital's special administrators.

The service, which costs £208 million a year to run across the whole West Midlands, has been given funding to cope with the longer journeys to other hospitals but it is not known what will happen once the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust that runs Stafford Hospital is dissolved, a plan set to take place in November.

Mr Washington told a health scrutiny meeting at Staffordshire County Council that women who had been preparing to give birth at Stafford Hospital would still be taken there when they went into labour even if they fell within the postcode to go elsewhere.


See also: New fears over Stafford Hospital as bosses warn of staffing crisis.

But Stafford Labour councillor Trish Rowlands said: "It could be a bit like a postcode lottery for people who would normally have expected to go to one hospital only to be told they are going to another."

See also: Stafford hospital camp prepares to host NHS campaigners from across the country.

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