Stafford Hospital trust to go into administration
The trust which runs Stafford Hospital is to be put into administration by the health regulator Monitor.
Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will be run by two specially appointed administrators to "safeguard the future of health services" currently provided.
Dr Hugo Mascie-Taylor and Alan Bloom of Ernst and Young will take over the running of the trust on Tuesday.
It will become the first foundation trust to go into administration.
A report for Monitor, written by a panel including Dr Mascie-Taylor in February, said services at the trust were "unsustainable".
It recommended the closure of its maternity unit, intensive care unit and accident and emergency department.
It said services could instead be provided at neighbouring trusts including the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, the Royal Wolverhampton or Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.
Monitor said the administrators were appointed after it was concluded the trust, which also runs Cannock Chase hospital, was "neither clinically nor financially sustainable in its current form".
The trust "was likely to become unable to pay its debts", it said.
Last year, the trust reported a drop in annual income of about £4m and received a £20m bailout from the government.
Monitor said the administrators would have 145 days to work with commissioners and other local healthcare organisations to produce a plan for patients that was "sustainable in the long term".
The plan would be subject to a public consultation, it said.
David Bennett, from Monitor, said the current management at the trust would report to the administrators but patients would not see changes to services over the next 145 days.
He said: "It is important that people in Mid Staffordshire know that they can still access services as usual at Stafford and Cannock hospitals while the Trust Special Administration process is on-going."
"We have taken this decision to make sure that patients in the Mid Staffordshire area have the services they need in the future."
Administrator Hugo Mascie-Taylor said recommendations to downgrade some services were not "set in stone" and would be looked at again.
He said: "We will derive a lot of information from the report but we arrive here starting again, looking at the whole health economy, looking at what other hospitals could do, maybe what other services like community trusts could do.
"It's about taking all that into account and asking what could we do in Stafford and Cannock that's safe and sustainable."
'Put patients first'
The Support Stafford campaign group said it would be holding a march in the town centre on Saturday against the current proposals.
Cheryl Porter from the group said: "We haven't been listened to yet, and these plans are unacceptable.
"I do hope that the administrators listen to what the people need for safety reasons because to take all our acute services away is leaving us very vulnerable in a very dangerous position."
She said more than 15,000 people had signed a petition against the proposals.
The Conservative MP for Stafford, Jeremy Lefroy said he hoped the administrators would "put patients first".
He said: "There is a vital need to retain acute services in Stafford and Cannock because the capacity elsewhere is simply not there.
"They also need to consider the huge disadvantage to local people who would have to travel much longer distances for their treatment but also for hospital visitors who would have to do the same."
The trust's chief executive, Lyn Hill-Tout, said: "We would like to reassure local people and GPs that we are continuing to provide all our usual services at both hospitals and patients should turn up as usual for any appointments they have."
"We would like to thank our local community for their continued support, which means a great deal to staff."
The Mid Staffordshire trust was at the centre of a three-year public inquiry into "appalling standards" of care at Stafford Hospital, following concerns over high death rates.
The concluding Francis Report, published in February, highlighted the "unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people" between 2005 and 2009.