Stafford Hospital: 'Damaging' fall in public confidence and income

The hospital trust's chief executive Lynn Hill-Tout said the situation was "very damaging"

Falling public confidence in Stafford Hospital is costing the trust almost £4m a year, the BBC has learned.

A Freedom of Information request by BBC Sunday Politics in the Midlands found in the past five years there had been a 67% drop in the number of patients opting to be treated there.

The trust said annual income had dropped by £3.7m as people chose "to have their treatment elsewhere".

Chief executive Lynn Hill-Tout said the fall in income was "very damaging".

The number of patients selecting Stafford Hospital through the Choose and Book referral process fell from 15,740 in 2007/8 to 6,513 in 2012/13.

A report from Robert Francis QC into a higher than usual number of deaths at Stafford Hospital strongly criticised hospital managers and the Department of Health.

Some 400 more patients died at the hospital than would normally have been expected between 2005 and 2008.

Robert Francis said patients had been let down by Stafford Hospital, which "put corporate self-interest ahead of patients".

Ms Hill-Tout believes that even without the criticisms in the Francis Report a small district hospital like Stafford with a yearly income of £150m would find it increasingly difficult to survive independently.

Financial watchdog Monitor has warned the trust is close to becoming insolvent.

The watchdog said the trust needed to save £53m over the next five years to stave off insolvency.

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