Stoke & Staffordshire

Stafford Hospital A&E closure: MPs call for debate

Four Staffordshire MPs have asked for a Commons debate over plans to close a hospital's A&E department at night.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has approved a three-month closure of Stafford Hospital's accident and emergency from 22:00 until 08:00.

But the Conservative MPs for Stone, Stafford, Cannock Chase and South Staffordshire say they want the department open 24 hours.

The group said they were "extremely disappointed" with the decision.

MPs Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase), Bill Cash (Stone), and Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire) have made a formal request to the Speaker of the House of Commons for an urgent debate.

'Every possibility explored'

Speaking on behalf of the group, Mr Lefroy said: "We are extremely disappointed that the decision had to be taken which will see a short-term closure of the A&E at Stafford and are working locally and in Westminster to help find solutions to the staff shortage at the hospital.

"We are calling for this urgent debate to ensure that Stafford is given full support to ensure the quickest possible return to 24-hour A&E and that every possibility is explored by the PCT and the government.

"An A&E department open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Stafford is essential for all our constituents and we will fight to restore that as soon as possible."

Trust chief executive Lynn Hill-Tout previously said the closure would allow resources to be focused on the daytime and would improve "quality of care".

She added that the three-month overnight closure, due to start on 1 December, would also allow a period for "intense staff development".

Last month the A&E unit at Stafford Hospital was issued with a formal warning after inspectors found a lack of suitably qualified or trained nursing staff on duty during an unannounced visit.

After a follow-up inspection, the CQC said it only had moderate concerns about the department.

The hospital is at the centre of a public inquiry, after a higher than expected number of deaths from 2005 to 2008.

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