Scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust will remain in business until at least October despite the regulator’s desire to dissolve the organisation “as soon as possible”, HSJ can reveal.
Alan Hudson, one of a group of special administrators appointed to the trust, said his team and the two trusts due to take over the West Midlands hospital trust’s services did not expect it to be wound up for six months.
His comments contrast with last month’s statement by foundation trust regulator Monitor which indicated dissolution should happen “as soon as possible”.
Mr Hudson told HSJ the Department of Health, Monitor and the special administrators had decided within the past 10 days that their work should continue until October.
Administrator Mr Hudson has since April 2013 worked alongside Dr Hugo Mascie-Taylor and a team from consultants EY to manage the organisation while assessing which services should continue to be delivered in the area and in what form.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt approved plans in February to dissolve Mid Staffordshire, remove some services and divide the rest between Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust and University Hospitals of North Staffordshire Trust.
A Monitor spokesman in March confirmed the special administrators’ work up to that point had cost £7.25m but could not explain why it had budgeting for up to £7.75m more to be spent before the trust was dissolved.
The total cost of the work is now set to top the cost of the Francis Inquiry itself, which cost £13m and took two years. Applying the failure regime to South London Healthcare Trust in 2012 cost roughly £5m.
Mr Hudson told HSJ the work involved complex service changes and IT network standardisation across the three organisations which were important to get right for the local population.
He said rumours that University Hospitals of North Staffordshire Trust would ignore the special administrators’ plan once they had moved on by removing all critical care work from the Stafford site were unfounded.
Former East of England Strategic Health Authority chief executive Sir Neil McKay will chair a “local transition board” to ensure the plan agreed by the secretary of state was complied with.
Mr Hudson said Sir Neil’s board would comprise commissioners and the two inheritor trusts and that the funding for the re-organisation of services was dependent on the plan being followed.