SOME Stafford patients needing gastro-intestinal surgery may be transferred to other hospitals this month - to ease pressure on Stafford Hospital’s one and only upper gastro-intestinal tract specialist.
And the Mid Staffs Trust is looking at longer-term cooperation with other hospitals to prevent its single consultant being “overwhelmed” by work.
“We only have one whole time equivalent consultant and he is going on holiday for two weeks in late August,” trust director Mark Partington explained.
“So we have agreed with the ambulance service that patients will still be brought to Stafford to be assessed, but if there is a requirement for them to have further treatment, including surgery, they will be transferred to other hospitals in Stoke or Wolverhampton.
“When our consultant is back, he is often overwhelmed by the amount of work he has got, and we just can’t attract anyone else to join us. So we are working with UHNS to agree how we can share the work across the trusts.”
He added: “A few weeks ago this situation was keeping us awake at nights, but it is getting more stable now – we are getting more integration with North Staffordshire’s clinical team, and that will be crucial for the future.”
A meeting of Staffordshire County Council's health committee heard there were also “significant” difficulties in recruiting radiologists, and the trust had never had more than six radiology consultants, out of a target figure of 10. But it was now getting support from Wolverhampton staff, who were doing some of the outpatient work, and was using high-tech links with Stoke so that radiologists there could examine scans taken in Stafford
Human resources director and deputy chief executive Jeff Crawshaw said competition to recruit senior staff in the NHS was “intense” and Stafford’s recent history made it more difficult to attract recruits.
“We have a good reputation among the local population and we do recruit people who have trained here,” he said.
“The challenge is more with the experienced staff and senior doctors. When there is so much competition and so many organisations recruiting, people don’t make Mid Staffs their first choice for a job.
“We have to work with Wolverhampton and Stoke to recruit on the basis of their reputation.”
Mr Crawshaw said certainty about plans for the future after the trust was dissolved would help improve staff confidence and help them plan their careers.