Express & Star comment: No surprise over boss's view on Stafford's A&E
In truth, we probably knew it was coming.
The permanent removal of the 24-hour emergency department at Stafford’s County Hospital has been mooted for some time, so it is little surprise to hear new chief executive Tracy Bullock say round-the-clock services are unlikely to return.
The decision to reduce A&E opening hours was a controversial one from the start, particularly bearing in mind it came in the aftermath of the Mid Staffs NHS Trust’s dissolution.
With all eyes on the hospital in the wake of the high-profile deaths scandal, people wanted services to improve and expand, not face reductions.
From an operational perspective the move is understandable, especially considering the fact the hospital is considered to be unsustainable in its current form.
The financial savings will enable the trust that runs the hospital to invest in resources elsewhere.
And bosses insist that with overnight demand being low, the impact on patients is unlikely to be significant.
However, while it is important our hospitals are run as efficiently as possible, we should not forget we are dealing with people’s lives here.
The people of Staffordshire rely on these crucial services in their time of need.
They want to be reassured they will receive the very best care possible, as well as services being available and close at hand.
It is understandable anyone in the county who needs emergency support after 10pm at night would much rather have facilities on their doorstep, rather than face a lengthy journey to a hospital in another area.
There are also concerns over the long term about how the closure will affect other hospitals in the region, including New Cross in Wolverhampton.
With most of our hospitals bursting at the seams and struggling to cope with demand, the last thing they need is extra patients.
However, all hope is not lost and Ms Bullock says the decision will be reviewed in the future.
But it seems like wishful thinking to believe a 24-hour emergency department will one day return to the hospital.
It can only be hoped whatever decisions the trust makes, patient care is always the top priority.