ONE of Stafford Hospital’s administrators has admitted he is concerned by a growing ‘us vs them’ rivalry between supporters of the Weston Road hospital and their counterparts in Stoke.
Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor said he feared continued animosity could scupper plans to move services from Stafford to Stoke and for clinicians to work in networks across both sites.
“There’s a paradox, because one of the things that I have not heard is anybody being particularly critical of the idea of networking services across the organisation,” he said.
But, he said, there was a growing voice, heard at many of the consultation meetings in Stafford, saying ‘We in Stafford are better than Stoke and we shouldn’t be taken over by them’.
“I can understand that people in Stoke might say ‘why do we want to import their problems here’ particularly, if I’m honest, when they appear to be a little ungrateful.”
“My feeling is the more this goes on the worse it’s likely to get and the more difficult it will get to solve it. The sooner a decision is made the better.”
“Right now people are finding it helpful to vilify the other site,” he said. “It’s a very difficult thing to control and it is human nature to an extent to focus on the differences.
“It’s a tribal thing really.”
“There are vested interests at work here as well,” said Professor Mascie-Taylor.
“People who are thinking ‘this is about my job, my social standing, my post’ or ‘when I work with them I might have to compete for my own job? There will be people who over the years between the two sites have fallen out.”
“All those things take time and I think what’s happening at the moment is that both sites are seeing the negatives.”
Professor Mascie-Taylor said there were positives to the recommendations for both Stoke and Stafford including the additional capacity Stoke would have at its fingertips and the strong reputation Stafford had with local deaneries and universities as a site for medical training.
“Crucially, that has to be the view of the Stoke board,” he said.
“At the end of the day, unless the Stoke trust and the people that regulate it believe it’s in the interest of Stoke to do this then this won’t happen.”
Professor Mascie-Taylor said the more the animosity between the two sites was developed the more likely it was to cause the plans to collapse leading to a dangerous situation for both Stafford and Stoke.
“The fact is that if Stafford falls over, the recipients of most of the fallout from that will be Stoke,” he said. “The dilemma in all this for Stoke is whether to reap the potential benefits or to suffer the dis-benefits of not doing it.
“We have a choice here between an agreement and managed solution with an agreement and funding over a transition period of three years or a not particularly pleasant situation where there is a breakdown of services and the other trusts in the area have to deal with the fallout.
“It’s not like closing the corner shop, the work stops but the activity by and large continues. The ambulances will still be called and they will mostly take people to Stoke if Stafford isn’t there.”