STAFFORD'S Hospital boss said challenges highlighted by a report labelling the trust unsustainable were being felt by hospitals all over the country.
Chief executive Lyn Hill-Tout said today's formal acknowledgement of the assessment first made in December last year that the trust was clinically and financially unsustainable was a conclusion the executive board had already reached.
"Mid Stafford NHS Foundation Trust is not financially sustainable in its current form because, despite all the efforts not only of the trust but of the local health service, we do not have a plan which brings us to financial break even by 2015," she said. "Similar financial challenges are being faced across the country by smaller general hospitals.
"This is because medicine has and will continue to become more specialised and smaller hospitals cannot attract or resource the specialist teams and infrastructure required to maintain such services."
She said although specialist services could not be provided in every hospital it was vital communities were able to access specialist care.
"One solution is to network (that is share) services with larger, specialist hospitals, which is something Mid Staffs has already begun to do successfully," she said.
She said she was pleased the report by Monitor had been thorough and detailed and had confirmed the trust was operationally sustainable and had demonstrated that over the last two years through consistently low mortality rates and low infection rates.
"The Care Quality Commission recognised the improvements by lifting all concerns about the trust in July 2012," she said. "We are now also achieving other nationally recognised targets which are so important to patients such as being seen and treated quickly for cancer and not having to wait more than 18 weeks from the time patients are referred by their GP to seeing a consultant. "
She said the trust was consistently achieving national targets for treating patients within four hours of arrival at A&E and that feedback showed these improvements were making a big difference to patients who attended the hospital.
"We are pleased this aspect of the trust has been assessed so positively and is a reflection of the sustained, hard work of our staff in improving the services provided to our patients."
She said the board had opened discussions with Monitor early last year after realising the trust was not clinically of financially sustainable, which led to the regulator setting up the review of the trust using powers under the Health and Social Care Act.