LEADING Stafford GPs have said they will make the final decision on which services are provided locally, not the administrators at Stafford Hospital and not the Secretary of State for Health.
Members of Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group met a selection of campaigners and members of the public fighting to discuss the plans to downgrade Stafford Hospital.
Chief officer of the CCG, Andy Donald, opened the meeting at Stafford Elim Christian Centre by 'dispelling a few myths' regarding the CCG's position on the administrators' recommendations for Stafford Hospital, which would see in-patient paediatric, maternity services and emergency surgery stripped from the trust and critical care downgraded from level three to level two.
He said the CCG had not 'signed off' on the recommendations and clarified that the proposals were potential options and models.
"It's not what's going to happen, they are purely an interesting set of proposals. You cannot read this as a done deal.
"We are the commissioners and whatever happens we have to commission services to local people," he said. "Our job is to get as many services in place for local people within the money available to us."
Mr Donald said there was a question around the affordability of the plans put forward and the CCG would not support a plan that showed financial deficit.
He said there was no truth to reports that the CCG had refused to commission obstetric-led maternity in Stafford but the challenge was to provide one affordably.
One member of the public criticised the CCG for not having met the public earlier and said they had been 'hung out to dry' by the administrators, who had made it look like the CCG supported the plans at public meetings and in 'favourably editing' the video they had shown to members of the public.
Mr Donald agreed that in retrospect the decision by the CCG to stay 'underground' during the consultation period might have been a mistake.
Another member of the public said: "The administrators have used you as a human shield.
"We haven't been misled we have been purposefully lied to," she said. "We have been patronised as a public."
Mr Donald said after Monitor submitted their final recommendations and they were signed off by the Secretary of State, the CCG would decide alongside the local population and staff at the hospital what they would commission.