Stafford Hospital scandal causes Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust to be dissolved

The scandal plagued Mid Staffordshire NHS trust that runs Stafford Hospital is set to be dissolved. The trust has been in administration since April 2013 since Monitor, the health watchdog, deemed its services as “unsustainable”.

The Trust Special Administrators have now put forward their suggestions on how to remedy this in their final report.

It is recommended that the maternity services at the hospital be downgraded opposed to closed and that a new midwife-led maternity unit should be created at the hospital – leaving consultant-led services for more difficult births to be dealt with at University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Accordingly, Cannock Hospital will be run by the Royal Wolverhampton Trust.

Moreover, the paediatric assessment unit at Stafford Hospital is also recommended to be run in conjunction with the emergency department and will be managed by paediatric emergency doctors and nurses. Those children that will require overnight care will have to be cared for in other hospitals due to the emergency department closing at 10pm.

The trust has been under close scrutiny since an investigation in 2009 which uncovered serious failings and numerous clinical mistakes. In early 2013 a public enquiry into this scandal recommended drastic changes in the way the NHS is currently run.

Supplementary to the changes that are to be implemented the administrators also recommend that the name of the hospital be changed.

There are still concerns, however, about how these changes will impact on patient services.

I don’t know about you, but my feeling is that this is tragically too little, too late. There is still a culture of secrecy in the NHS and I, for one, am worried that we haven’t seen the last hospital scandal. Despite the publicity these NHS scandals, our specialist medical negligence team often continue to struggle to get even the most basic of admissions from many NHS hospitals – the government may have tried to send a clear message to many hospitals that they need to start being open about owning up when mistakes are made [sadly, we all make mistakes, we are only human] – but that message may have been heard, but too few people in the NHS are taking it seriously.

And will giving Stafford Hospital a new name really make any difference at all? Or are those responsible simply hoping that the change of name will make us forget the tragic mistakes they made?

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