A DAMNING study has slammed administrator’s plans for Stafford Hospital, saying they are built on ‘weak foundations’, calling plans to move maternity ‘poorly judged’ and criticising the proposals for putting ‘sick children at risk’.
The report, commissioned by Stafford Borough Council and published today by healthcare experts Durrow, sets out strong opposition to the draft recommendations saying alternatives have not been ‘properly set out or costed’ and criticising administrators for not safeguarding the hospital’s future saying the plans could lead to services being reduced more in the future and ultimately the hospital site being ‘sold off’.
Stafford Borough Council leader Councillor Mike Heenan said the plans around the hospital represented the single most important issue he had been involved in over 30 years as a councillor and said he would ‘not accept being told we must lose services at our hospital based on unsatisfactory evidence’.
“For example, we are being told that we are a ‘small maternity’ unit so cannot survive clinically or financially - well tell that to some of our close European neighbours who would regard Stafford as a ‘large’ unit based on the numbers of births it delivers,” he said. “And the administrators concede there are no safety or quality issues with the work of our hospital’s maternity department - so closing it makes no sense whatsoever.”
The report, which will go before a special meeting of the council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Thursday before being put before the full council the following Tuesday says administrator’s recommendations are based on ‘weak foundations’, put sick children at risk, put forward ‘poorly judged’ plans to close maternity, confuse the issues behind the changes and arguably provide ‘a false prospectus’ for the public consultation.
The report lists 20 other hospital maternity departments which it says would have to close based on the administrator’s recommendations for Stafford including Harrogate, Salisbury, Scarborough, Yarmouth and Winchester and says the risk of transferring seriously sick adults because of the proposed reduction in critical care ‘did not appear to have been taken into consideration’.
“The administrator’s will cost many, many millions which could take more than 25 years to claw back.,” said Councillor Heenan. “So with the on-going improvements in the hospital, and to properly serve the increasing population in our area, we suggest the best solution is to invest in Stafford.
“Investment will help our hospital attract patients back, who may have been put off by its past reputation, and therefore generate income.”
“And this will give it a better chance of balancing its books than the administrator’s proposals to reduce services; which will obviously reduce income, cost millions to be spent on providing the services elsewhere; and in turn could have an effect on the viability of other services carried out within the hospital.”
A response to the report must be ratified by members of the council on Tuesday before it forms part of the consultation.