STAFFORD Hospital’s top governor has apologised for “failing” residents in the wake of the trust’s multi million pound deficit and continued overnight A&E closure.
But Mike Fowkes, lead governor of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, went on to stress that both the governors and the trust board had approved the overnight A&E reopening – before publicly naming the body which refused to give the reopening the green light – the clinical commissioning group (CCG).
Mr Fowkes’ comments were made at the trust’s annual members’ meeting, held on Monday at Cannock Chase Council’s offices.
He said: “Talking on behalf of the governors, we have an apology. We feel we have failed you in two incidences; one is A&E and the other is the deficit.
“When I joined it was just over £3million, it went up to over £20million and has come down to £15million.
“It is stated the governors should hold the board to account. I accept that responsibility but I could argue we failed to hold the board to account.
“A lot of work is being done but we are not satisfied it is being done fast enough. That is one of our priorities.”
Speaking on Monday about A&E’s continued overnight closure, announced earlier this month, he said: “I think it is important you get the message that we, as governors, pledged A&E would reopen.
“There were proposals it would reopen in October and I had meetings with the chairman and chief executive on behalf of the governors. We were satisfied from what they told us it was safe to reopen and we passed a resolution. The board passed the same resolution.
“However, it is important that members now realise that we have organisations throughout Britain arriving at, and making, decisions on our behalf called clinical commissioning groups.
“We had to go to the commissioning group and ask them ‘may we reopen’ and they said no. Their resolution was behind closed doors and I can’t remember them coming to the governors first and asking for their views.
“At the end of the day remember two names. The chair of the Cannock CCG is Dr Johnny McMahon and Stafford’s chair is Steve Powell.”
During a public question session of the meeting it was asked who the CCGs are accountable to. Andrew Donald, lead manager of CCG, responded. He said: “We will be accountable to the NHS Commissioning Board, which comes into being from October 1.”
Explaining the decision not to reopen A&E overnight he said: “The challenge for the new commissioners is that we have to weigh up the benefits of provision in relation to the subset of the population.
“We want an emergency and urgent care service for the residents of Cannock and Stafford and we wanted to make sure that the majority of the time of day, when it is mostly used (14 hours), there was 100 per cent consistent coverage.
“It is important we have a service for the population which is clinically safe during the 14 hours, rather than dilute the clinical service over 24 hours.
“We will listen to what people are saying to us. Sometimes we have to make decisions not everyone is happy with."