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Mid Staffs to be ‘dissolved’

Published on 27/02/14 at 08:07am
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The scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to be dissolved, after health secretary Jeremy Hunt accepted the recommendation of investigators who looked at the best way forward.

He told the House of Commons that Stafford Hospital and Cannock Chase Hospital will be operated by other local providers - and that some services will be moved to different hospitals.

“It is vital that this structural change is made as soon as possible to stabilise local health services,” Hunt said, following the Trust Special Administrators’ (TSAs) report.

Enraged public and political response to the scandal of Mid Staffs was perhaps the defining story of the NHS in 2013, after an official report revealed that patients at Stafford Hospital were subjected to ‘appalling and unnecessary suffering’ there.

Robert Francis QC said patients were ‘routinely neglected’, with hundreds dying between 2005 and 2008, many of whom were not cleaned properly or given medicines, food and drink.

Mid Staffs is yet to be sentenced following a criminal prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive over the death of one patient, Gillian Astbury, who died on 11 April 2007, of diabetic ketoacidosis, when she was an in-patient at Stafford Hospital.

NHS leaders last year called Mid Staffs’ performance ‘sad and shameful’.

Responding to the health secretary’s decision, the Trust’s chief executive Maggie Oldham praised staff and said: “Mid Staffs has come a long way over the past few years.”

Hunt also commended the work of staff “who have helped turn around the quality of care provided at Mid Staffs, and who in recent months have continued to provide quality services in the face of great uncertainty about the Trust’s future”.

Outlining plans for how the changes will work, Hunt explained: “It is clearly not possible for all of Mid Staffs’ services to go on as they are, and therefore the TSAs’ recommendations will mean moving a small minority of services away from Stafford hospital.”

He said local commissioners would need to be satisfied that there is sufficient capacity elsewhere before moving services - and Hunt is also asking NHS England to see “whether consultant-led obstetrics could be sustained at Mid Staffs in a safe way in the future”.

Some services provided by Stafford will be enhanced, Hunt said, such as the inclusion of specialist frail and elderly support within the hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit.

Although the TSAs’ plan is seen as financially viable, the health secretary warned of ‘stark’ challenges ahead, not least in fiscal terms, and highlighted the £20 million subsidy funding from the Department of Health in 2012 and 2013 which had allowed the Trust to pay staff and suppliers.

“Local people suffered too much for too long under a system which ignored appalling failures of care in their local hospital,” Hunt added. “They now deserve to know that same system has learned the lessons and is guaranteeing high-quality, safe services for local people.”

Adam Hill

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