STAFFORD Hospital bosses said a report by regulators that the hospital trust was unsustainable in its current form confirmed what they already knew.
Responding to the report by independent regulator Monitor’s, chief executive Lyn Hill-Tout accepted Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was not clinically or financially sustainable and said the board had reported as much to Monitor earlier in the year.
“The board concluded this was the case earlier this year and had discussed this with our regulator, Monitor.”
She said the regulator subsequently called in the contingency planning team, made up of experts from Ernst and Young and McKinsey, to review the trust and help develop a plan for the future of services in the area.
“Mid Staffs is not financially sustainable in its current form because, despite all the efforts not only of the Trust but of the local health service, we do not have a plan which brings us to financial break even by 2015,” said Mrs Hill-Tout. “Similar financial challenges are being faced across the country by smaller general hospitals.”
She said like many smaller district general hospitals clinical services had become unsustainable because medicine had and would continue to become more specialised and smaller hospitals struggled to attract the teams and infrastructure necessary to retain such services.
“Although specialist services cannot be provided in every hospital, communities need to be able to access specialist care,” she said. “One solution is to network or share services with larger, specialist hospitals, which is something Mid Staffs has already begun to do successfully.”
Mrs Hill-Tout said she was pleased to see in the contingency planning teams detailed and thorough assessment confirmation that Mid Staffs was operationally sustainable and had demonstrated that over the last two years with low mortality and infection rates.
She said health watchdog the Care Quality Commission recognised those improvements, lifting all concerns about the trust earlier in the year.
“We are now also achieving other nationally recognised targets which are so important to patients such as being seen and treated quickly for cancer and not having to wait more than 18 weeks from the time patients are referred by their GP to seeing a consultant,” said Mrs Hill-Tout. “We now consistently achieve the national target for treating patients within four hours of arrival at our A&E.
“We know that these improvements are making a big difference to our patients and this is evidenced in the feedback we receive.”
She said she was pleased to see that aspect of the trust assessed so positively and said it was a reflection of the sustained, hard work of staff in improving services for patients.