In Brief

Mid Staffs: Jeremy Hunt backs calls to scrap scandal-hit trust

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been declared financially and clinically unsustainable

HEALTH SECRETARY Jeremy Hunt has backed calls to dissolve Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust following one of the biggest scandals in the history of the health service.

The trust, which has been in administration since last April, has been declared financially and clinically unsustainable.

In December, trust special administrators said that without changes Mid Staffordshire would face annual debts of more than £40m by 2017, reports The Guardian. Administrators recommended that the trust be dissolved, warning that it would not be able to make up its deficit because it did not provide enough specialised services.

They also recommended that a new midwife-led maternity unit at Stafford should deal with half the number of 1,800 births the hospital does now, with difficult births to be dealt with by the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) NHS Trust. Overall control of Stafford hospital is expected to go to UHNS Trust, while Cannock hospital would be run by Royal Wolverhampton Trust.

The health sector regulator Monitor approved the plans last month, despite opposition from local campaigners, and Hunt has today confirmed that the trust will be scrapped, with services moved to other hospitals.

It follows a 2009 investigation by the Healthcare Commission, which found that between 400 and 1,200 more people had died at Stafford hospital than would have been expected between 2005 and 2009. Last year the Francis Inquiry highlighted the "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people", with some patients left lying in their own faeces for days or receiving the wrong medication.

Earlier this week, the Support Stafford Hospital group said it would be "bitterly disappointed" if the decision was taken to axe the trust. "We know that surrounding trusts are struggling be it financially and/or with capacity," it said in a blog post. "These problems have to be addressed. To send more patients to these trusts will only exacerbate problems for both our community and theirs."

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