ANGRY campaigners called upon Stafford’s health chiefs to “stand by their promise” to reopen the town’s A&E department in October.
A final decision over whether or not to reopen the department, which closed in December of 2011 amid fears it was operating unsafely, now rests in the hands of the local commissioners who will meet on Tuesday to make the call.
A spokesman for Support Stafford Hospital: “Yet more confusion and delay.
“The clinical staff and managers have worked very hard and all the criteria have been met.” She said. “Why can’t the trust stand behind their promise to reopen?”
She said the group would now petition MPs and local government to fully voice their support for a 24-hour service.
“All parties have listened to the public at petition signings and know what they want.” She said. “They need to make this unelected, unrepresentative body, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), do what is right and reopen our A&E 24/7.”
At a meeting of Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust board, executive members agreed unanimously the A&E department would not reopen without approval from commissioners.
They also agreed the board would seek the commissioners agreement the reopening criteria had been met or would be met with mitigation and ask them to confirm their commissioning intentions.
The criteria, developed by the trust’s A&E consultants, the clinical director for emergency care and MoD A&E consultants seconded to the hospital at the time were developed to ensure the A&E would not reopen before it was fully ready.
The meeting on Thursday heard all but two of those criteria had been met, and those that hadn’t (competencies of middle grade staff who will run the department overnight and patient flow) could be achieved through mitigating actions.
Associate director of operations Chris Holt said: “It is now up to the commissioners to determine what service they want from us and whether they wish us to open or not.”
Clinical director for emergency care Dr Sean Nakash said: “I think we have addressed the safety issues that were highlighted to us.”
Chief Exectuive Lyn Hill Tout said the small number of doctors that ran the A&E department and a national shortage of middle grade staff necessary for the area would mean it was always vulnerable and said there were no guarantees about the sustainability of the workforce.
She added that during the time the A&E department had been closed overnight, local commissioners had developed their intentions for commissioning a different type of 24/7 emergency and urgent care service.
A spokesman for Support Stafford Hospital said: “If the future consultation on a new model is to occur then that is the future.
“The present should maintain local services for the public until a firm new model is agreed.
“Where is the opportunity for the public to talk to the CCG before this decision is made, since the hospital board will not make the decision themselves?” she said. “The CCG is meant to represent the health care users, where is their mandate to change the service without consultation?”