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Stafford's County Hospital special report: Trust bosses reveal 'severity of challenges'

By Richard Guttridge | Stafford | Health | Published:

Stafford's County Hospital is ‘not sustainable’ in its current form according to health bosses who have drawn up a five-year plan in a bid to make it viable.

Special report

The trust that runs the hospital is proposing a radical overhaul of the site and the services it provides – warning it would be a long and difficult process.

An ‘appropriate’ level of emergency care will remain in Stafford but there has been no mention of a return to 24-hour A&E.

Bosses say County Hospital is underused and cannot continue to operate in its current form.

The crisis talks come as it was revealed the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) is predicting a loss of £71 million for 2017/18.

It is set to lose a subsidy it receives to run County Hospital by 2022, making the need for drastic change all the more urgent.

Key performance targets on A&E waiting times and cancer treatment are also being missed.

The plan for the future of County Hospital includes shifting some services, such as elective operations, from Stoke to allow the city’s under-pressure hospital to focus more on emergency care.

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Staffing at the trust will also be reviewed.

A report, titled ‘Delivering our 2025 Vision’, said: “The future of County Hospital represents a significant challenge for the trust.

“It is not sustainable in its current form, with insufficient activity from patients in the surrounding area, therefore leaving spare capacity which is costly to the trust.

“The current set-up of services is not efficient. County Hospital is underused and Royal Stoke is overheating significantly on a continual basis.

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“This challenge must be addressed in order to enable delivery of operational and financial targets.”

Health chiefs said the trust faced ‘extreme’ financial pressures and admitted it could not go on failing to meet performance targets.

The report said: “The severity of the challenges we face requires a bold, innovative and radical transformational response.

“UHNM is struggling to meet certain key operational targets. Performance against A&E waiting targets is particularly poor, as is referral to treatment targets and some cancer targets.

“This level of performance is not acceptable for our patients and is also having a negative impact on our financial position.”

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he had confidence in the trust to come up with a workable plan for the town’s hospital and insisted its woes had been partly brought about by unfair funding for the county’s health services.

However, campaigners said they feared County Hospital was gradually being wound down

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Deputy Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Deputy Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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