INQUIRIES into Stafford’s beleaguered health services could actually herald a radically more effective model of care, says the town’s hospital boss.With the final report of Robert Francis QC's second public inquiry into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust due to be delivered to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt within days and regulator Monitor about to embark on the second stage of its review of services at the troubled trust, chief executive Lyn Hill-Tout spoke to the Newsletter about the future of healthcare in the county town.
“It could be very exciting, because here we have an opportunity to create a blueprint for a new type of small district gen- eral hospital,” she said.
She said Monitor’s team, which declared the trust “unsustainable” in December, was currently looking at which services were essential locally.
“It comes back to what the health needs of the populations are, understanding that, and deciding where clinical services should be provided.
“Whatever we do, it needs to be quite radical, I don’t think we should try and pretend that there are any sacred cows,” she said. “If clinical services could be sustained through partnering with University Hospitals of North Staffordshire or with Cannock Hospital taken on by Wolverhampton or Walsall, then that’s what should happen.
“It doesn’t matter whose name is above the door, what matters are the services provided.”
Mrs Hill-Tout said with the Francis final report imminent it was more important than ever the trust publicised the changes and improvements.
“I would hate to see the debate about what clinical services need to be delivered locally merged into the conversation about Stafford having been a poor place,” she said. “We’ve been trying to get Stafford to a level with other hospitals and I believe we are there now.
"We’re not a trust in crisis any more in terms of the quality of care or what we are doing.”
She said it was quite right that Stafford featured in discussions around the inquiry, but said it would be wrong to make predictions about what conclu- sions the report might make.
“This community has been through enough, why add yet more unevidenced speculation?”