A poorly performing trust identified in a Healthcare Commission review of children's services last week blamed an administrative error for its low score.

A poorly performing trust identified in a Healthcare Commission review of children's services last week blamed an administrative error for its low score.

Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals trust was one of eight trusts rated 'weak'. But chief executive Martin Yeates said this was because the trust had submitted data in only two of the seven areas requested.

The error was 'highly regrettable' and did not reflect the child-friendly services provided, he said.

He told HSJ: 'Nobody has been dismissed. But we have thoroughly investigated the reasons for this failure and have taken the appropriate action. The Healthcare Commission has agreed our action plan.'

The review of 157 trusts in England was based on the national service framework for children and young people. It found that overall the quality of child services was good, with 25 per cent rated as excellent or good. The majority, 70 per cent, were rated as fair.

Generally, the review found in-patient services were providing the best child-focused care. These services were the most likely to have the appropriate staffing, training and children-only wards.

The commission was less pleased with emergency services, where 28 per cent of trusts were rated weak, and outpatient care, where 46 per cent of trusts scored badly.

Commission chief executive Anna Walker said: 'Some findings are very encouraging. The problem areas seem to be accident and emergency and outpatients. More skills in dealing with children are needed here.'

This was reinforced by comments from the trusts with the lowest ratings. They were: Kettering General Hospital; County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals; Stockport foundation; Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals; Northern Devon Healthcare; Salisbury foundation; Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals; and Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare.

Salisbury foundation trust director of ambulatory care Andrew Stag said the trust's review shows inpatient care was 'by and large OK' but there were inadequacies in emergency and specialist care.

He said: 'We are a small trust and it is difficult to recruit and retain nurses for children across all areas. We do not have sufficient numbers to staff our A&E 24/7.'

Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare trust medical director Dr Ian Holland said: 'It is disappointing that we have been rated as weak, but it's important for the public to understand that this is primarily a result of our size and geography.'

For example, stipulations about staff with dedicated paediatric training living close to the hospital were difficult in a rural area, he said.