The formal consultation period for the Special Administrators’ draft report on the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is due to come to an end at midnight tonight.
The discussion period began on August 6, after the administrators published their draft report into the hospital. This recommended the accident and emergency department should only be available in the daytime, and the transfer of maternity and paediatric services to other larger NHS trusts.
Once the consultation period is complete, the Special Administrators will submit their final report. The health service regulator for England, Monitor, and the Secretary of State for Health, will then decide on the recommendations for the hospitals in the Trust, and how to implement them.
After all they have been through, today's verdict will feel like a kick in the teeth for the people of Stafford.
Local people had a legitimate right to expect that the end result of the two Francis inquiries would be to give them a hospital which is both safe and sustainable.
But whilst we welcome the decision to keep the A&E open, Jeremy Hunt's failure to prioritise turning the hospital around in recent years has led to the loss of maternity and paediatric services at Stafford, representing a significant downgrade of the hospital.
Many of today's proposals will be of concern for people in Stafford. Everyone deserves the best possible care from their local hospital and other care services. Cure The NHS still firmly believes that patient safety has to be the number one priority.
Closer working relationship with UHNS will be a good thing for Stafford Hospital and everyone who relies on it. Evidence shows that specialist centres, such as the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, have the safest outcomes for patients.”I believe there are valuable lessons to be learned by other hospitals facing similar difficulties.
– Julie Bailey, founder of campaign group Cure The NHS
If the proposals by theTrust Special Administrators (TSA) go ahead, it is anticipated the services identified to be migrated from Stafford Hospital will have moved across to neighbouring hospitals in the region within two or three years.
Those services will instead be provided in the main by the University of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, and The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, although the TSA has identified other healthcare providers interested in taking on some aspects of care.
The TSA came up with its draft recommendations after discussions with patient groups, the public and clinicians including hospital trusts in Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, and the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) - which buy in health services for the area.
Stafford Hospital's A&E department, which shuts between 10pm and 8am, has escaped the proposed cuts, which will now be subject to public consultation from next week until October.
However, major emergency surgery and most trauma care, neonatal services and paediatric inpatient services - with the exception of its assessment unit, would all be moved to other hospitals in the region.
But the Trust Special Administrators said 91% of patients currently using services would still be accessing care at the hospitals if the changes went ahead.