Stafford Hospital: Ambulances diverted to ease A and E pressure
Ambulances are being diverted away from Stafford Hospital to ease pressure on its accident and emergency unit, NHS managers have said.
Some patients are now being taken to hospitals in Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Burton-upon-Trent instead.
Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) made the decision after Stafford Hospital reported a shortage of nursing staff.
It said patient safety was a priority and that it was a temporary move.
The CCG said it had looked at various postcode areas along with West Midlands Ambulance Service and hospital managers to see where ambulances could be transferred.
It said patients in the south of the county would go to New Cross in Wolverhampton, and Queens Hospital in Burton-upon-Trent would take emergencies from the east.
Ambulances from places including Eccleshall and Stone would now be sent to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, it said.
Cheryl Porter, from the Support Stafford Hospital campaign group, said she believed it was a "dangerous situation".
She said: "I don't believe that surrounding hospitals can cope, they are all lacking the capacity to deal with patients from their own towns as it is."
Ray Salmon from the Unison union said the CCG had made it clear to members "there was no alternative if they were to keep patients safe".
He said: "It is going to have a knock-on affect, because these hospitals have their own problems, but this is the best of a worst case.
"The hospital chief executives are all fairly confident they can cope. This is simply a by-product of the recruitment and staff retention problems at Stafford."
The chief inspector of hospitals warned on Monday that services at Stafford Hospital could become unsafe if one more worker was lost.
The trust, which has been in administration since April 2013, is due to be dissolved in November with some services being moved to neighbouring hospitals.