Stafford Hospital is to lose its maternity and children’s wards
Stafford Hospital is to lose its maternity and children’s wards as well as its emergency surgery services, under new proposals to substantially downgrade the hospital.
Stafford Hospital has become synonymous with NHS failings after claims of 1,200 excess deaths between 2005 and 2008 came to light earlier this year and the subsequent Francis Inquiry highlighted poor treatment and a lack of care amongst some of the nursing staff.
These latest proposals are, however, a result of the dismal financial performance of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stafford hospital, along with Cannock Chase hospital.
A report from the trust’s administrator says the trust is not viable, with recent improvements coming “at an average cost that is significantly higher than most other trusts in the country.”
In January, Monitor, the financial regulator, said that the trust was “both clinically and financially unsustainable in its current form.”
The administrator highlighted staff shortages as a particular problem. The number of consultants is significantly lower than it should be because the trust does not have the funds to employ them and the reputation of Stafford has put many consultants off working for the trust.
The current consultant-led A&E service at Stafford Hospital will continue, but only between 8am and 10pm. However, most emergency surgeries and trauma care will end along with maternity, neonatal and paediatric in-patient services.
Antenatal and postnatal checkups will remain available at Stafford while the services available at the smaller Cannock Chase hospital will continue relatively unchanged.
For more specialised services, local people will now have to go to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke or to the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
The Francis report suggests the problems for Mid-Staffordshire began after managers lost sight of patient needs when they began a drive to obtain foundation trust status.
Mid-Staffordshire was the first trust to be put into administration. The Conservative-controlled Staffordshire county council, which has had responsibility for public health since April, has supported reorganisation rather than the breakup of the trust, which it would like to see provide integrated health and social care for Staffordshire.