THERE are still ‘serious concerns’ over plans to dissolve Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and strip Stafford Hospital of its services, says the leader of Staffordshire County Council.
Responding to news Monitor had formally accepted administrator’s proposals for the future of the trust, Councillor Philip Atkins pointed out the healthcare regulator had not had the power to change the recommendations, only accept or reject them.
“They said the proposals were the ‘most appropriate solution for the local health economy that can be found in the circumstances’,” he said. “This is not exactly a ringing endorsement.”
“While Monitor’s hands are now tied, the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt does have the ability to vary the recommendations and it is important we are getting the best option, not just for Stafford and Cannock hospitals but for the whole of the health economy in Staffordshire.”
Mr Atkins said the health and wellbeing of the whole of the county must drive the final plans and he called on Mr Hunt to look closely at both the report and the wider impact on Staffordshire’s health economy before making his final decision.
“We all recognise the serious position the trust was in and the extremely difficult job the administrators faced in coming up with any form of credible proposals to help safeguard healthcare, even in the short term, and we were pleased they listened to people on areas such as the midwife-led unit,” he said. “However, there are still serious concerns on the long-term sustainability of these proposals, the impact on the wider health economy and the financial fragility.
“It will cost £90m to implement – with more a £30m subsidy just to pay staff and suppliers this year.”
Councillor Atkins said as the review of services progressed it became clear the problems went much further than just one trust.
“That it is why we need a new approach, a new way of working and a new way of delivering integrated care to meet the challenge and needs of all the people of Staffordshire.”
“As a county and as a country we need to move away from hospital-based care to investing in prevention, early intervention and more integrated care in the community.”
Councillor Atkins said through the Health and Wellbeing Board the council was already looking at innovative ways and partnerships to support the delivery of ‘integrated, quality and cost-effective health and social care in our communities’ and it was crucial Mr Hunt recognised that in making his final decision.
Mr Hunt has until February 26 to make his decision.