HEALTH bosses in Stafford denied backtracking over plans for future health services in the town and said campaigners need now to move forward and help get ‘the best deal’ for the town.
Chief officer of Stafford and Surrounds CCG Andy Donald said health campaigners fighting to retain acute services at Stafford Hospital needed to compromise and help commissioners work out how to best implement the administrator’s proposals.
“I think there is a really big opportunity here,” he said. “In a health service that's required to save £30billion by 2020 a proposal to put about £300million into the health economy here over the next three to eight years is a really good deal.
“The danger is we continue to focus on the things that everyone has focused on for the last 18 months and I think we need to move on.”
“No other health system in the country is going to get the level of cash that is going to come here and if we are not careful that cash will just get sucked into the system and nothing will change.
“We cannot afford that for the population,” he said.
Mr Donald said he wanted to open up a debate with the community on how to implement the recommendations of the administrators in a way that achieved the best possible deal for the population and ensured the money was used to reconfigure services.
“Because there's a real danger that the money comes in and we just do more of the same and nothing changes,” he said.
Mr Donald denied the CCG had gone back on promises they would commission services the community wanted.
“We haven't backtracked,” he said. “I think what I said at the meeting at Elim's Church is that as the commissioners we would commission services for the population, that meet the needs of the population.”
Mr Donald said he felt the answer to the debate over the maternity unit at Stafford Hospital fell somehere in between the midwifery-led unit recommended by administrators and the obstetric-led unit favoured by campaigners.
“I think there are some models where if you have a networked arrangement, even though you might not have consultants on site, you will have consultants perhaps are up the road at UHNS or Wolverhampton that means you can possibly have more births on site.
“I think there needs to be a bit more imagination about how services are developed,” he said.
Mr Donald said A&E presented another opportunity to innovate.
“I think we have demonstrated 14/7 A&E services is sustainable,” said Mr Donald. “A large majority of patients are now dealt with within 14 hours.
“What we've said is that we will integrate the out of hours service.
“We will look to give that contract to the eventual provider to manage, so they link the out of hours service together with the in-hours service so there is still some level of service overnight.
“I think there are different models here and the point is, you only start to develop those models when you start to do the work to commission it and we haven't got there yet.”
He encouraged residents to attend the CCG’s first Call to Action meeting on Monday between 1pm and 3pm or between 6pm and 8pm at Rising Brook Baptist Church or the public meeting at Elim’s Church on Tuesday Jan 28 between 7pm and 9pm to help shape future health services in Stafford and the surrounding areas.