STAFFORD campaigners have urged health bosses to reconsider the decision to close the town’s A&E overnight in light of emerging plans for more shared working with other hospitals.
Speaking at the Stafford Hospital Working Group meeting, Cheryl Porter, who co-founded Support Stafford Houses, said in light of Monitor’s report the hospital was unsustainable, the Clini- cal Commissioning Group should rethink the decision to pursue alternative models of urgent care.
“I know the pilot is still going on, but with everything around us, would it not be a sensible decision to have a rethink about Stafford’s A&E?” she said. “It would bring revenue back.”
Andy Donald, chief officer for Stafford and Surrounds CCG, said: “I think the answer, and I know it is an unpalatable one, is that at the moment, you have a gold-standard A&E service for the 16 hours a day, as soon as you move back to 24 hours there are questions about its clinical sustainability.”
Mrs Porter said with working models already in place between Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (MSFT) and Universersity Hospitals of North Staffordshire (UHNS) of arrangements to share services, and more mooted between the area’s other trusts, surely staff could be contributed from elsewhere to bolster Stafford’s A&E.
“You brought the word sharing in, why can't they start that sharing in A&E?” she said.
Chief operating officer at MSFT Maggie Oldham said sharing services was currently working well and had been for a number of years but the issue with the A&E centred around specialisation.
“The trauma centre, the stroke centre, the cardiac centre and the neuro centre at UHNS means their skill mix on the shop floor requires all the consultants they have currently got and more besides.
“They are recruiting to stand still and to stretch them to provide services to us would not be the right model for them at the moment.”
“So, the sharing doesn't work in that department?” said Mrs Porter. “Because if it doesn't start working there I can't see how it's going to work anywhere else.”
Mr Donald said large numbers of people were still going into Stafford Hospital overnight since it had closed.
“They are going direct into wards and beds,” he said. “If they go through a GP or through the out-of-hours service, they go into Stafford overnight.
“The point about that is there's lots of other ways to get into a hospital than through an A&E department.”