Commissioners have rejected Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust’s plan to reopen its accident and emergency department 24 hours a day.
Last night a meeting of the Mid Staffordshire Commissioning Board, which is chaired by GPs from the Cannock Chase and Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group decided to reject the plan.
The clinicians remained concerned about the sustainability of a 24/7 service and the dilution of senior staff presence, according to a statement issued by the CCG.
The decision follows the announcement yesterday of a review by Monitor of the trust’s long term sustainability. The trust has been heavily criticised over its standards of care in recent years and is subject to a public inquiry by Robert Francis QC.
The A&E department was closed between 10pm and 8am in December 2011 after a chronic shortage of staff meant the trust could not guarantee patient safety.
It was initially closed for three months but its reopening has been repeatedly delayed while the trust struggled to meet safety criteria on staff levels and competencies.
The Mid Staffordshire trust board agreed on 6 September that the safety criteria had been mostly met.
But commissioners have rejected this and instead will pilot an emergency and urgent care service which will operate 24/7 as a pilot from December.
During the closure the hospital has continued to accept children, maternity patients and GP assessed patients overnight.
The closure of the Stafford Hospital A&E affects an average of between 12 to 15 patients a night.
Trust chief executive Lyn Hill-Tout said: “It is obviously the commissioners’ responsibility to decide which services they want us to provide and the trust’s responsibility to provide those services to a high standard.
“In the light of this decision we will continue to work with our commissioners to deliver 24/7 local services for our community.”
She said the trust would not reopen against the wishes of its commissioners but work with them to provide alternatives.