Stafford Hospital to lose services as trust to be dissolved
Stafford Hospital will be stripped of maternity services, major surgery and child inpatient care under moves that will see the scandal-hit trust which runs it dissolved.
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will be axed with responsibility for Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals transferring to neighbours in Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.
But Stafford's A&E department has escaped a further controversial downgrade and will remain open 14 hours a day as it is at present. The radical overhaul has been drawn up by administrators and the proposals will now go to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for final approval.
The administrators announced their conclusions following months of deliberations at a packed press conference attended by the nation's media yesterday afternoon.
Dozens of protesters calling for services at Stafford to be retained – led by lead campaigner Cheryl Porter – braved the wind and rain to gather to voice their anger outside.
It will take between two and three years for services to be transferred in order to give hospitals in Stoke and Wolverhampton time to prepare.
Around 1,800 babies a year who are currently born at Stafford will be delivered at other hospitals while children who require in- patient care will be sent elsewhere by ambulance.
Transition would start next April and the costs of moving services would total £108.4million. But with the cost of extra buildings and investment at other hospitals, the complete cost of the proposals is between £220.4m and £302.8m according to a formal proposal.
Special administrators appointed to tackle the Mid Staffs trust's financial problems said in a report that there would still be an £8.5m annual deficit even after all the changes they recommend. The hospital is currently overspending by £21m a year.
But Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor and Ernst and Young consultants Alan Bloom and Alan Hudson say sweeping changes are needed because of problems attracting enough medical staff and the high cost of employing temporary doctors and nurses to cover shifts.
In their report they say: "To avoid a continuation of the current situation where the Trust is in the impossible position of trying to provide its current range of services safely within its budget, it is essential the difficult job of planning to provide safe, affordable services into the future is done now."
A consultation on the blueprint begins on August 6 and runs until October 1. The administrators stressed that 91 per cent of services at Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals would continue as they are.
"The TSAs believe that reducing the current 14/7 A&E service provision in Stafford would present a significant risk to the other providers in the local health economy in terms of increasing the pressure on already challenged departments," they said.
However, Stafford Hospital will begin to care for people who have suffered major trauma and will cover some medical conditions including strokes and heart attacks. There will also be beds provided for people to have rehabilitation treatment if they have been in hospital elsewhere but want to finish being cared for closer to home.
Stafford was said to have one of the smallest maternity units in the country.
The administrators say: "Pregnant women would receive routine consultant-led pre and post-natal care at Stafford Hospital overseen by consultants from neighbouring hospitals.
"However, women identified with complications later on in their pregnancy or with high-risk complications would attend a larger specialist hospital.
University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust has proposed offering this service."