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Overnight blood and cancer care axed at Stafford's County Hospital

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Overnight blood and cancer services in Stafford will be axed under shock plans at County Hospital revealed today.

A new chemotherapy suite will open at Cannock Hospital from July and five more beds provided at Royal Stoke Hospital under the move.

Meanwhile a £2 million revamp will take place at the County Hospital for cancer patient appointments and will open next year.

Recovery beds for cancer patients from Stafford will be transferred back to the County Hospital on a general medical ward.

Wards one and two, which currently house the haematology and oncology services at the County Hospital will close to allow a major refurbishment of the hospital, under measures announced by the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust.

In total, eight overnight beds will go from the County Hospital but haematology and oncology patients will still be seen in Stafford for appointments and day treatment.

It comes as the children's services are set to be closed from tomorrow as part of the downgrade of the county town's hospital after it was deemed clinically and financially unsustainable.

Support Stafford Hospital campaigner Karen Howell said the transfer of cancer services came as a shock.

She said the two services were not included on the list of services to be axed as part of the downgrade after the controversial administration process.

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She said: "This never featured in the plan conducted by the Trust Special Administrators and we think it is outrageous that they are closing two wards. Bit by bit we are seeing our hospital torn apart. It is absolutely appalling. The pressure on those with cancer and their families is hard enough without having to travel long distances with extra things to worry about like car park costs and being away from your home town."

Campaigner Cheryl Porter added: "Cancer affects so many people that this will hit so many in our community. It will make it even more gruelling than it already is. Once again the people of Stafford are being treated like second class citizens. It is a diabolical decision."

But trust chief executive Mark Hackett said there was scope in the administrator's report to move the services.

He said that there was fewer than one patient a day using the haematology inpatient facility in Stafford.

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He said: "The plans for the haematology and oncology services at County Hospital form part of the trust special administrator recommendations on allocating services to each Trust.

"County hospital will continue to provide outpatient and day case services in both oncology and haematology, but the inpatient haematology beds for seriously ill patients will be at both Royal Stoke University Hospital and Royal Wolverhampton Trust as part of larger specialist wards.

"In addition, these plans will see the County Hospital day case chemotherapy suite undergo a £2m investment in facilities, with a target completion date of summer 2016, showing our commitment to keeping our haematology service locally.

"By integrating these services we will be able to provide a safe, sustainable and robust service and allow us to develop and improve the range and quality of the services we provide to patients."

Gwen Nuttall, chief operating officer at the Royal Wolverhampton Trust which runs Cannock Hospital, said: "We are working closely with colleagues from University Hospital North Midland to make sure all patients get the treatment and support they need in the most effective and efficient manner."

George Adamson, leader of Cannock Chase Council, welcomed the new chemotherapy suite coming to the town.

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