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18 December 2013, 12:10
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to be dissolved with Stafford Hospital looked after by the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Cannock by Wolverhampton NHS Trust
Key maternity and paediatric services look set to stay at Stafford Hospital following a high-profile public campaign, according to a final report on its future.
Trust Special Administrators (TSAs) appointed earlier this year to look at the long-term future of the scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust published their final recommendations, including several large changes to their draft proposals published earlier this year.
Under these proposals, a midwife-led maternity unit will be set up at Stafford, while there will be an upgraded 14-hour-a-day paediatric assessment unit staffed by specially trained clinicians - although seriously ill youngsters will still go to specialist centres.
The administrators also made it clear that basic critical care services will remain at Stafford, with very sick patients taken to other neighbouring hospitals.
The TSA had previously said the site would keep its limited-hours accident and emergency department.
At the trust's Cannock Chase Hospital, there will be more ''step-down'' care - where recovering patients are transferred from specialist hospitals to wards nearer their homes - and more elective surgery.
Meanwhile, it is still recommended to dissolve the Mid Staffs trust with the hospitals taken over by neighbouring NHS trusts.
A huge public campaign, which saw more than 50,000 march through the streets of Stafford earlier this year, had urged the administrators to keep maternity and paediatric services in the town.
Campaign group Support Stafford Hospital has criticised any transfer of services away from Stafford because they believe it equates to a downgrade of the site.
Alan Bloom, one of the TSAs, said: ''We now have a plan for the future which means over 90% of the people who currently use these hospitals continuing to do so.''
He said the trust was ''financially and clinically unviable'' but the proposals were ``the best chance'' to ensure the long-term future of services.
Mr Bloom said that by doing nothing the trust's current #20 million deficit could have almost doubled in four years' time but under their recommendations it would fall to below #15 million over the same period.
The TSAs believe their plans will save about #25 million per year to 2017, while there will be #130 of capital funding to extend services at separate hospitals in Stoke, Wolverhampton and Walsall, run by University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust (UHNS) and The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust.
Under the proposals, Stafford would be run by UHNS, and Cannock taken on by the Royal Wolverhampton.
About #40 million of the capital investment is needed to carry out much-needed maintenance and improvement of both Cannock and Stafford Hospitals.
The proposals require the agreement of independent health watchdog Monitor, which appointed the TSAs in April, and the final approval of the Health Secretary by February 26 2014.
Any transition would happen over three years, with the new structure fully up and running by the start of 2017 financial year.
The inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC concluded there had been basic failings in standards of care, with some patients left lying in their own faeces, given the wrong medication and others so thirsty they drank the water from flower vases.
It had followed a 2009 Healthcare Commission inquiry, which found hundreds more people had died at Stafford Hospital than would ordinarily have been expected, between 2005 and 2008.
In the Francis Inquiry's final report, 290 recommendations were put forward to the Government on how to improve care in English hospitals and avoid another scandal like Mid Staffs.
In its response in November, the Government accepted 281 out of 290 recommendations, including 57 in principle and 20 in part.
Among those changes adopted were that from April 2014 all hospitals will have to publish monthly data showing staffing levels on wards, to aid transparency.
The Government stopped short of imposing a duty of candour on individual doctors and nurses to be more open and honest with families about errors and problems with their relatives' care, as recommended in the Francis report, instead placing the duty on organisations as a whole.
It also strengthened the duty of candour applied to individuals through clinicians' own professional bodies to encourage such behaviour as best practice among their membership.
To see the full report click here: http://tsa-msft.org.uk/final-report/final-report-documents/