STAFFORD Hospital’s administrators have moved to ‘clarify the confusion’ around their plans after staff accused them of getting their facts and figures wrong.
After more than a week of public consultation and four public meetings in Stafford, Stone and Cannock, that saw more than 2,000 people attend and more than 200 questions asked, Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor said he was happy to address some of the issues raised over the plans for paediatric and maternity services.
At last Wednesday’s meeting at Staffordshire’s County Showground, Stafford Hospital head of children’s services Kim Woolliscroft questioned administrators over the accuracy of the report on which their recommendations were based.
”You stated quite clearly we did not carry out children's surgical procedures at Stafford Hospital,” she told the meeting. “We carried out 1034 last year.”
But Professor Mascie-Taylor explained today there was a distinction between paediatric surgery and surgery on children.
He said paediatric surgery was one of ten surgical specialities, and the only one defined by the patient’s age rather than condition, and specifically concerned the diseases, trauma and malformations from birth to teenage years, with only 29 centres in the UK performing such procedures, Stafford Hospital not being one of them.
Surgery on children he said, was defined by the patient’s condition and not age, and included procedures like tonsillectomies, which are currently carried out at Stafford and would continue to be on a day-case basis under the proposals.
Professor Mascie-Taylor said once the confusion over the definition of paediatric surgery was clarified, numbers quoted by staff and supplied by hospital management were ‘virtually the same’.
Joint administrator Alan Bloom said he wanted to reassure local people the services currently provided at both Stafford and Cannock Hospital were safe.
“Our remit is not to look at the services as they are today,” he said. “Instead we have been asked to look at their sustainability 10 years into the future, once you add in the two to three year transition period, we are looking out 13 years from now.
“The services are safe today but we have to examine how safe they will be in the future.”
Addressing criticism the administrators did not consult with some departments before publishing their recommendations, Mr Bloom said it was correct the plans were influenced by national evidence and experts before being tested with staff.
“We have done this with the help of the Royal Colleges as they are the experts on future safety requirements,” he said.
He added staff were now actively engaged with the consultation with five staff meetings already held and a further 15 planned to hear staff’s response to the recommendations.
Mr Bloom said in writing the recommendations administrators had also worked closely with local clinical commissioning groups, responsible for buying hospital services and dictating what must be provided locally.
“Other providers of hospital services were asked to submit proposals about what services they would be able to provide at Stafford and Cannock Chase hospitals in order to maximise the range of high quality, safe services that can be provided at the hospitals within budget in the future,” he said.
“Ultimately we had to come up with a proposal that would provide services which would be safe into the future, which the commissioners were willing to commission and which providers are willing to provide.
“The blueprint for services set out in our draft recommendations achieve this."