‘IT IS absolutely outrageous! We demand that they reinstate our full A&E, not only the children’s, to 24-hour A&E,’ Julian Porter told News Line yesterday.
Porter, who is one of the Support Stafford Hospital campaigners that occupied the hospital for six months, was responding to the children’s accident and emergency services at Stafford County Hospital being suspended after senior staff said it was ‘not clinically safe’.
Despite a determined occupation involving over 50 tents on the site, the Paediatrics and the Accident and Emergency at Stafford Hospital were reduced to being open only 14 hours a day between 8am and 10pm. Porter continued: ‘When the administrators came in, they put a plan together with the managers of the hospital, and this was also seen by the Care Quality Commission.
‘All these bodies knew what model was being used and they agreed on the children’s unit being set up. Now they are saying it is unsafe. We told them at the time it was unsafe. They took the paediatric department away and they took the back-up for the children’s A&E away, which was critical. Therefore you are running an A&E that is not really an A&E.
‘We told them at the time that the service isn’t safe. This is a political thing. They want to downgrade the A&E to an urgent care centre. They want £1.8 million back. They don’t want to pay for a full-blown A&E. This is tantamount to the underfunding of the NHS. It is dismantling by design. They pick on Stafford because they think that it is an easy target. If it is seen as not working properly, they can undermine it and bring in private companies to run the NHS. That is their plan.’
The University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, which took over the hospital in the wake of the Mid-Staffs scandal, claimed that a shortage of staff that had the right specialist training at Stafford County Hospital had forced the closure to patients under 18.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the closure. He said: ‘I am pushing for this matter to be resolved urgently in order that services can be restored.’
The University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust statement said: ‘Children should not be brought to Stafford County Hospital as walk-in patients. Children with minor illnesses and injuries should use primary care services such as their GP or community pharmacists.’