Stafford Hospital: reaction to administrators' recommendations

Political leaders and campaigners have been reacting to recommendations the trust that runs Stafford Hospital should be dissolved.

Proposals unveiled by Trust Special Administrators also say critical care, maternity and paediatric services should be cut.

Karen Howell, Support Stafford Hospital

"Our biggest concern is that it seems the youngest and the most vulnerable in society, for example, young pregnant women, are going to be most affected by these changes.

"It is not acceptable to have their lives potentially put at risk

"How many births are going to be happening now in an ambulance or en route to hospital? What kind of dangers does this pose?

"But we are not stopping [our campaign]. We are going to be calling for a march in London in October as part of our campaign.

"But what is happening here is happening nationally. It is not a local, Stafford problem."

Julie Bailey, founder of Cure The NHS

"I have every faith that the administrators are making the right proposals.

"Many of today's proposals will be of concern for people in Stafford. Everyone deserves the best possible care from their local hospital and other care services.

"Cure The NHS still firmly believes that patient safety has to be the number one priority."

Administrators are proposing that 9% of services are moved, many to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Ms Bailey said: "Closer working relationship with UHNS will be a good thing for Stafford Hospital and everyone who relies on it.

"Evidence shows that specialist centres, such as the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, have the safest outcomes for patients."

Reacting to the proposal that the hospital trust is to be dissolved, Ms Bailey said, "I believe there are valuable lessons to be learned by other hospitals facing similar difficulties.

"Stafford Hospital struggled with finances and safety for years, but the move to foundation trust status in 2008 was the last straw."

Lynn Worthington, 57, a nursery nurse from Cheadle, Stoke-on-Trent

"I gave birth at the hospital in 1984 and I'm absolutely stunned. To think there will not be any children born in Stafford is shocking.

"Keeping A&E open is a good thing, but where do they go after that, they can't go to acute services because there won't be any.

"This will destroy a whole town."

Peter Baker, 66, a bank worker from Creswell, Stafford

"If the secretary of state can't do the cuts at Lewisham, how can he do them here?

"This for me is the thin end of the wedge, it's not what the people want."

Julian Porter, 46, from Brockton just outside Stafford

"My son was born premature at Stafford, I'm really disappointed - disgusted really - that they can take maternity away.

"They say that they are saving A and E but in fact they are downgrading it, with no real acute services.

"That's not good enough for a town of our size - there will be deaths."

Michael Heenan, Stafford Borough Council leader and former Stafford mayor

"I am very disappointed with what we have heard today but our fight to protect the long-term future of Stafford Hospital has only just begun.

"It is inconceivable to members of our community that our future sons and daughters will not be born in our county town.

"We are unhappy that A&E will only be opened for 14 hours every day - putting more strain and stress on those who find themselves in the unenviable position of needing emergency treatment and loved ones who will be forced to travel longer distances to be by their side.

"To remove all major acute services and to not be able to treat very ill children, for a hospital that services around 250,000 people, is unacceptable."

Rowan Draper, Stafford borough councillor and the Support Stafford Hospital Campaign

"There were some obvious proposals we thought might happen like the dissolving of the trust, but that is more surface than structural.

"There was an obvious direction of travel, to partner up with Stoke and Walsall or Wolverhampton for Cannock.

"But it is very disappointing that maternity and paediatrics have been downgraded.

"After the Francis inquiry and other reports I have read, at no stage were they to do with the issues.

"But now expectant mothers and babies are paying the price for bad management at the hospital and from Monitor and a general lack of scrutiny."

Jeremy Lefroy, Stafford MP

"I have long argued that Stafford - and other similar district general hospitals - play a vital role in the NHS. Today's announcement confirms that.

"The original idea that Stafford should become a non-acute community hospital has been discarded - thanks, in no small measure, to the wonderful campaign of local people through Support Stafford Hospital.

"It is very good news too for local people that Stafford will retain its A&E department which about 45-50,000 people attend every year and which yesterday received the accolade of being rated in the 'friends and family' test as one of the best in the country. Acute medical services will continue to be provided.

"Where we still have much work to do is over maternity and children's services. Stafford's maternity department is very good and needs to be retained. I will continue to fight for its retention."

George Adamson, Cannock Chase District Council leader

"It is a shame about Stafford as it has quite clearly been downgraded. People from the Cannock Chase area have always relied on Stafford Hospital for a wide range of services and facilities and the downgrading will be a huge blow to them.

"For Cannock it is great news - the hospital is staying open and it looks as though we will be getting enhanced services.

"For instance, I have been in talks with Wolverhampton hospital and there are already discussions about providing a free shuttle bus between Cannock and Wolverhampton hospitals to ferry patients or people with appointments."

Aidan Burley, Cannock Chase MP

"The good news today is that Cannock Hospital has been saved.

"This is a major step change in the fortunes of Cannock Hospital. It represents a victory for all of us who campaigned to keep it open and for it to be properly managed and more fully utilised.

"Those who said the hospital would be closed were wrong. Those who said it would be privatised were wrong.

"These proposals mean not only will all the existing services be maintained, but for the first time in a generation new services will be coming into Cannock Hospital, not being stripped out.

"The 'death by a thousand cuts' that characterised the last 10 years by Mid-Staffs Foundation Trust, without any objection from the last Labour government, has finally been reversed.

"More services will now be provided from Cannock Hospital and it can look forward to a much more secure long-term future."

Lord Hunt, shadow health minister

"I feel really sorry for the people of Stafford because they are going to lose some of their essential services like maternity and critical care.

"It does seem that some of the reasons are financial and I think the great pity is the government has spent £3bn in the last year on an unnecessary reorganisation.

"Why couldn't that money have been spent on helping hospitals like Stafford get better services and actually being able to provide a lot more services to the people who depend on the hospital?"

Stafford Hospital A&E nurses Heather Gough and Mark Saville

Heather: "I think it's bittersweet but I am relieved with A&E as long as it's a sustained continuation of services.

"But for paediatric and maternity to go, it's a disaster for Stafford.

"It's a sad day for this town and Staffordshire.

"The maternity services are excellent and paediatric works well as well, but to take them away is a disaster and I'm sure there will be opposition."

Mark: "It's now time for nurses and doctors to have a voice and staff to speak up to save services to restore order.

"It's a call for all nurses all over the country to speak up over this which is really the down-sizing of the NHS.

"With A&E staying, I see a small victory today but I also see a huge battle now on our hands.

"The consultation process starts now and I think what need to happen, people need to be heard - we need to fight."

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