Healthcare sector regulator Monitor has begun the process of putting Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust into administration.

The move would make the troubled acute provider the first foundation trust subjected to the “failure regime” powers granted to the regulator under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

In a statement issued this morning, the regulator said it was consulting health secretary Jeremy Hunt and key organisations about the prospective appointment of trust special administrators to lead the changes in Mid Staffordshire.

A decision in principle was taken by Monitor’s Board yesterday following a recommendation from experts in the “contingency planning team” sent into the Trust five months ago. The team concluded earlier this year that the troubled trust was neither clinically nor financially sustainable in its current form in the long term.

The team’s full report “into sustainable options for alternative clinical models in the area is being finalised and will be published shortly”, the statement added. The report is based on input from a clinical advisory group led by Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor.

The 2012 Health Act gave Monitor powers over failed foundation trusts that are similar to the Health Secretary’s powers to put NHS trusts into administration. If Monitor decides to proceed, the administrators will take over the running of the Trust

The statement added: “The Trust Special Administrators, if appointed, must work with commissioners and other local healthcare organisations to produce a final plan for the reorganisation and delivery of health services. This will then be put to public consultation. No changes would be made to services until the plan is approved by the Secretary of State.”

Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: “We are now consulting on whether to appoint Trust Special Administrators with the expertise to reorganise services in a way which is clinically robust and sustainable. Their priority will be to make sure that patients can continue to access the services that they need and they will work with the local community to do this.

“Taking into account the consultation process, it would be several weeks before Trust Special Administrators were in place. In the meantime the Trust Board will continue to ensure the current range of services are delivered for patients and Trust Special Administrators would then continue that responsibility.”

Mid Staffordshire FT chairman Professor John Caldwell said Monitor’s announcement was “a significant step”.

“The prime concern of the present board has been to ensure the delivery of safe and sustainable services of high quality to the communities served by our hospitals at Cannock and Stafford,” he added.

“We have accepted for some time that MSFT working alone cannot produce a long lasting solution to the issues we face to ensure financial and clinical sustainability.

“We will continue to work with our regulators and commissioners to deliver the services they require to our local community.”

More to follow.