More needs to be done to help financially-troubled hospital trusts before they face going into administration, according to NHS representatives and unions.
The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations that provide NHS services, said that allowing trusts to spiral into financial difficulties is “in no one’s interest”.
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the organisation, said: “A growing number of organisations, including Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, are finding themselves facing financial difficulties and tough decisions about the future sustainability of their services.
“In the best interests of patients, Monitor is right to take firm action to help the trust recover its financial footing and deliver better care. We need to consider all the options and identify their merits and flaws.
“We need to do more to support troubled trusts at the earliest possible stage to maintain high standards of care, rather than getting to the point where trusts find themselves facing administration. This requires better integration of services and a focus on people’s care needs, rather than the location of buildings.
“There is no denying that changes to services can be controversial and they can be difficult to communicate, even when there is a good clinical case for doing so.
“Poor care costs money and, in the worst cases, lives. We know all too well about the tragic consequences for patients and their families at Mid Staffs when this was the case in the past.
“Allowing trusts to spiral into financial difficulties is in no one’s interest. To address these issues, we need radical changes to improve outcomes and manage resources on a sustainable basis. This means having a whole-system solution that involves the wider healthcare community, rather than looking at one organisation in isolation.”
Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, added: “Putting Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust into administration is a key test of the failure regime under the new healthcare system and the Foundation Trust Network hopes the announcement will mark another milestone in the process of successfully resolving the difficulties facing the Trust.
“We support all efforts to improve the quality of services for patients in Staffordshire and welcome this recognition that on occasions issues in the local healthcare economy have to be tackled regionally rather than just locally.
“It is important, however, to highlight the work the current leadership team at Mid Staffs has done since 2008 to resolve issues at the trust including huge financial pressures.”
Christina McAnea, head of health at the union Unison, said: “The news is deeply worrying for patients, staff and local people. More than 15,000 local residents have already signed a petition calling for the hospital to keep its acute services. It is vital that these views are listened to and acted upon at all stages of the consultation process.
“Hospital staff and managers have put many hours of hard work into trying to turn this hospital around after the tragic lapses of care that occurred. Putting this hospital into administration could turn the clock back on these improvements.
“The focus on finances is also very worrying given that putting finances first - above patient care - was a major criticism made by the Francis report into Mid Staffs.
“There is money available to bail out banks, there should be money available to bail out vital local services such as hospitals. The government must step in.”