HEALTH bosses appear to have cast doubt on the future of maternity services in Stafford after Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt gave campaigners a glimmer of hope.
In a joint statement by the Trust Special Administrators (TSA) for the soon-to-be dissolved Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, hospital boss Maggie Oldham, Mark Hackett, her counterpart at University Hospital of North Staffordshire and commissioners the TSA said Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group didn’t want maternity services in Stafford.
The CCG will make the final decision on provision of services in Stafford.
Mr Hunt said on Wednesday there would be a review of consultant-led maternity services at the town hospital which campaigners said would lead to a level of paediatricians being retained there.
In its recommendations the TSA proposed midwife-led unit which would see half of expectant Stafford mothers give birth in the town hospital.
Administrator Alan Bloom said: “We note that the Secretary of State has requested further work from the NHS commissioning body (NHS England) to identify if consultant-led obstetrics could be sustained in a safe way at Stafford in the future as part of a wider review of the local health economy.
“In developing our recommendations the NHS commissioning body and the local commissioners were fully consulted along with local people and we received input from the National Clinical Advisory Group and other local providers in the local heath economy.
“In respect of maternity this was predicated on the commissioners’ stated intention that they did not wish to commission births at Stafford and concerns from the National Clinical Advisory Group as to clinical sustainability and safety.”
Andrew Donald, chief officer for Stafford and Surrounds and Cannock Chase Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “We’ve read the Secretary of State’s announcement and we know that he is asking NHS England and commissioners to look at whether consultant led obstetrics could be sustained at Mid Staffs. We will of course look into this with NHS England as quickly as is possible.”
Health campaigners and watchdogs have been reacting to Mr Hunt’s statement.
Kate Godfrey, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Stafford, said: “Minimal information has been shared on the working of the new trust, with no guarantees that services won’t be further reconfigured.
“Stafford patients will have to travel 20 miles to Stoke-on-Trent at an impossible cost for many local families.”
Healthwatch Staffordshire said they would pull out all the stops to ensure Stafford residents get the best services possible.
Jan Sensier, chief executive of Engaging Communities Staffordshire, which delivers Healthwatch, said: “It will now be more important than ever for us to engage with both public and staff to ensure the plans are implemented successfully and that things run smoothly.
“I understand the announcement will be disappointing to some people, but it was clear that the situation was unsustainable in the long term.”