Jeremy Hunt: Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved

Key services will be moved to neighbouring hospitals, the Health Secretary has said

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The Independent Online

The troubled Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed, with its two hospitals taken over by neighbouring NHS Trusts.

Stafford Hospital, which was at the centre of biggest care scandal in NHS history, will remain open, as will Cannock Hospital, and both will continue to see “90 per cent” of the patients currently under their care, Mr Hunt said.

Some services, including in-patient paediatrics and major surgery, will be moved to other hospitals. Local campaigners said that they were concerned people would have to travel further for their care.

The Trust has been in administration since April after the hospital regulator Monitor ruled it was neither clinically nor financially sustainable.

Two landmark reports into care failings at the Trust outlined “appalling suffering of many patients” between 2005 and 2008.

Robert Francis’ second report, published a year ago, made 290 recommendations, calling for greater transparency and candour about care problems and a widespread culture change within the NHS aimed at “putting the patient first”.

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Hunt said: “Local people suffered too much for too long under a system which ignored appalling failures of care in their local hospital. They now deserve to know that same system has learned the lessons and is guaranteeing high-quality, safe services for local people.”

Announcing his support for the changes recommended by administrators in July last year, Mr Hunt paid tribute to Mid Staffordshire staff who he said had “helped turn around the quality of care provided at the Trust”.

As well as concerns about care standards, the Trust was struggling to pay its bills and required a £20m subsidy from the Department of Health in 2012 and 2013 to pay staff and suppliers.

Stafford Hospital will now be managed by the neighbouring University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, while the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust will take over the Cannock Hospital.

Mr Hunt said: “The changes recommended following this independent process, supported by local doctors, will secure the safe and high quality services that the people of Stafford deserve having endured years of uncertainty and failures in care. 90 per cent of patient visits will continue locally, with a minority of services eventually being moved to neighbouring hospitals once the local NHS is satisfied there is sufficient capacity.

“I want Stafford to be a proper district hospital that continues to meet the needs of patients nearby, including for emergency care and births.”

The decision, which has been anticipated for some time, was met with tears by local health campaigners from the Support Stafford Hospital group, the Express and Star newspaper reported.

Sue Hawkins, from the group, told the BBC that she would not wish the NHS administration process on any hospital.

“We were expecting the trust to dissolve,” she said “We understood from the outset that would be the case, but we are a semi-rural area and people are going to have to travel long distances to receive care.”