Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has backed calls to dissolve the trust that runs the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital. Mr Hunt said Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust would be scrapped, with services moved to other hospitals.
The trust has been in administration since April when services were deemed “unsustainable” by the health watchdog Monitor. However, campaigners who oppose the move have pledged to challenge the decision in the courts.
Mr Hunt said. “The changes will secure the safe and high-quality services that the people of Stafford deserve having endured years of uncertainty and failures in care. I want Stafford to be a proper district hospital that continues to meet the needs of patients nearby, including for emergency care and births.”
He also said he wanted to dissolve the trust “as soon as possible” to stabilise local health services.
Under today’s announcement, the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will be dissolved while Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals will be “operated by other local providers”. Stafford could still retain consultant-led maternity services after Mr Hunt agreed to NHS England carrying out a review into the issue.
The original plan from administrators had been for maternity services to close, but this was later amended to allow for the creation of a midwife-led unit. Mr Hunt has now agreed to review that decision to see whether consultant-led services – needed for more difficult births – should be retained.
The trust was criticised in February 2013 in a public inquiry headed by Robert Francis QC for causing the “suffering of hundreds of people” under its care between 2005 and 2008. The inquiry made 290 recommendations aimed at tackling the wider cultural problems in the NHS.
Sue Hawkins, from the Save Stafford Hospital group, said, “We were expecting the trust to dissolve. We understood from the outset that would be the case, but we are a semi-rural area and people are going to have to travel long distances to receive care. It’s been a very lengthy process and I wouldn’t wish this on any other hospital.”