HEALTH Secretary Hunt announced yesterday that he is to dissolve the trust that runs Stafford General Hospital, with services set to be downgraded or closed altogether.
Following 50,000-strong marches by local people against the government’s intended closure of their hospital, Hunt did not outline fully the scale of the cuts to be made.
In particular, his statement failed to give details of the future for the 24-hour Accident and Emergency department.
Hunt claimed the changes he was making would ‘secure the safe and high-quality services that the people of Stafford deserve having endured years of uncertainty and failures in care.’
To this end, he said he wanted to dissolve the trust ‘as soon as possible’ in order to stabilise local health services.
Under yesterday’s announcement, the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will be dissolved while Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals will be ‘operated by other local providers’.
Along with the future of the A&E, the question of Stafford’s consultant-led maternity services was also too hot for Hunt to handle and he announced that NHS England would carry out a review into the issue.
In his statement, Hunt said: ‘It is clearly not possible for all of Mid Staffs’ services to go on as they are and this will mean moving a small minority of services away from Stafford hospital.
‘Local people can be reassured that local commissioners (NHS privateers) would need to be satisfied that there is sufficient capacity available elsewhere before moving services.
‘In parallel, I am asking NHS England to identify whether consultant-led obstetrics could be sustained at Mid Staffs in a safe way in the future.
‘In doing this, NHS England will work with local commissioners as part of their wider review of the local health economy.’
Unison Head of Health, Christina McAnea, condemned Hunt’s announcement, saying: ‘Today’s decision to dissolve the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is proof positive that reputation trumps facts.
‘It is bitterly disappointing for the local community who have campaigned for local services and have rallied behind the hospital as well as for staff who have worked hard to turn the Trust around.
‘The facts show that patient care has improved massively and the staff survey released only yesterday, showed that 73% would now be happy with the standard of care at the hospital if a friend or relative needed treatment – higher than the 65% national average.
‘If key services are to be transferred to neighbouring Trusts it is vital that they are given the financial resources needed to take on the extra responsibility.
‘It is also crucial that robust clinical assessments have been made to ensure that the people of Mid Staffs are able to access safe, appropriate healthcare when they need it.’