The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved and its two hospitals will be taken over by neighbouring NHS Trusts.
The trust was at the centre of one of the biggest medical scandals after it was found to cause the ‘appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people’. Between 400 and 1,200 people, more than would be expected, died at Stafford Hospital, with families of patients reporting appalling care, an investigation by the Healthcare Commission revealed.
The trust has been in administration since April when services were deemed ‘unsustainable’ and neither clinically or financially fit by the health watchdog, Monitor. Administrators said it was set for financial ruin as, without changes, it would face annual debts of £40 million by 2017.
Some services, including in-patient paediatrics and major surgery, will be moved to other hospitals. Local campaigners said that they were concerned people would have to travel further for their care.
The original plan from administrators had been for maternity services to close, but this was later amended to the creation of a midwife-led unit. Mr Hunt has now agreed a review of that decision to see whether consultant-led services – needed for more difficult births – should be retained.
Support Stafford Hospital (SSH) criticised the proposals to downgrade maternity services as they feared it would put services in the area back 40 years, but said it accepted that the trust should now be dissolved. Cheryl Porter from the group said, ‘Stafford cannot stand alone’ and should be part of a larger health network with other partner hospitals.
In a written statement to MPs Mr Hunt said, ‘local people suffered too much for too long under a system which ignored appalling failures of care in their local hospital. They now deserve to know that same system has learned the lessons and is guaranteeing high-quality, safe services for local people.’
Announcing his support for the changes recommended by administrators in July last year, Mr Hunt paid tribute to Mid Staffordshire staff who he said had ‘helped turn around the quality of care provided at the Trust.’