HEALTHCARE regulator Monitor has rubber-stamped plans by administrators to dissolve Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and passed them to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt for approval.
In a formal statement today the regulator said it was "satisfied the package of measures put forward by the Trust Special Administrators (TSAs) is the most appropriate solution for the local health economy that can be found in the circumstances."
Dr David Bennett, Monitor Chief Executive, said: “Making changes to local health care services is never easy, or necessarily popular with the general public. Neither does change in a complicated system like the NHS come cheap.
"Nevertheless it is absolutely essential that patients are able to access safe services today, tomorrow and well into the future.”
He made clear that under Monitor's statutory powers set out in the National Health Service Act 2006 as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the regulator could only accept or reject their recommendations, and not amend them.
"However, the Secretary of State has powers to require the TSAs to vary their report if he feels it does not meet any of his tests as set down in the legislation, including securing the essential services demanded by local commissioners and offering good value for money," he said. "That decision has to be made by 26 February 2014."
The special administrators will continue to run the trust and patients will be able to access services as normal in the meantime.
Cheryl Porter co-founder of Support Stafford Hospital said the response from Monitor to the administrators proposals was unsurprising.
"As a campaign group we knew there would be no change in Monitor's response," she said. "They have spent around £10million on gaining this knowledge. Of course they are not going to spend that sort of money and then rewrite it.
We have to now look towards the Secretary of State for Health and wait for him to come out and give his response to the recommendations.
"We know that the recommendations from the trust special administrators are wrong," she said. "They are not acceptable for a population of 276,000 - or 320,000 if you use the numbers originally supplied by the trust [Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust] that neither the administrators of the clinical commissioning group have ever paid any attention to.
"This is totally unacceptable and we will keep fighting it," she said. "We will leave no stone unturned."
Mrs Porter urged the community to come together again, this time by attending a public meeting at Elim's Church in Stafford on January 28 where representatives of the CCG had agreed to attend and answer the public's questions on the administrator's recommendations and the future of health services in the area.