BELEAGURED Stafford Hospital took another hit this morning as news emerged independent regulator Monitor had stepped in to solve the organisation’s mounting cash crisis.
Specialist teams are being invited to tender a recovery plan for Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over the next month, with a Monitor spokesman admitting the trust could face going into administration.
“Given the troubled history of Mid Staffs recently that plan is not an easy task,” he said. “This is the point where we start taking things out of the hands of the trust itself.
“In due course the experts will also determine the best way of achieving a solution – such as by a solvent restructuring of the trust, or possibly placing the trust in special administration."
He said while the tender process was ongoing a contingency planning team would step in to look into options for healthcare provision locally, working alongside local commissioners and clinicians.
The successful bidder will then step in to work on a long-term solution delivering a report to Monitor in spring 2013.
Dr David Bennett, chair and interim chief executive of Monitor, said the regulator had worked closely with the trust and significant improvements had been made in performance but it was now necessary to ensure long-term services could be secured.
“It is therefore time for us as the sector regulator to step in and look for a solution that ensures services are provided for local patients on a sustainable basis,” he said. “We have an open mind about the form that solution might take, but it should be the best one for patients in the long-term.”
Lyn Hill-Tout, chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are hopeful that the outcome of this review by Monitor will be that decisions are made about which services are to be provided at Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals.”
Julie Bailey founder of Cure the NHS said: “
“This investigation by Monitor is another serious blow to our hopes that Mid Staffs was getting its act together.”
Miss Bailey also questioned whether the move by Monitor would affect the decision over whether to reopen Stafford Hospital’s A&E overnight set to be decided by the commissioning group at a meeting this afternoon.
A spokesman for Stafford and Surrounds and Cannock Chase Commissioning Group said: “There have been several attempts in recent years to review services in Mid Staffordshire but we see this regulatory intervention as a definitive step which will give direction and clarity, not only to local people but to staff and clinicians too.
“We expect the previous reviews that have taken place, which includes the proposals put forward by commissioners about a new model of emergency and urgent care to inform the solution, which will report initially at the end of October and finally by the end of March 2013.”