STRUCTURE: Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is “optimistic” its accident and emergency department will open fully in time for May and is hoping to open a new department in October.

The A&E department was closed from 10pm until 8am from 1 December 2011 due to staffing shortages.

Recruitment is improving; however performance remains below the standard required. The hospital is optimistic that all of this could be addressed for a mid-May reopening.

Following meetings with the clinical commissioning groups and other leaders in the community it has been proposed that the vision for the long term sustainability for Stafford Hospital should be based on a 24/7 urgent and emergency care centre model, which will have full medical admissions capability and access to diagnostics.

This will mean integrating existing A&E services, probably with another NHS trust, GP out of hours services and minor injuries to the Stafford site. The management of minor injuries at Cannock Hospital will also be integrated into this model.

It is the intention to implement the new urgent and emergency care centre model by 31 October.

A formal consultation on the changes will need to be carried out. This will be impacted upon by borough and district elections in Cannock, Tamworth and Newcastle which will see Purdah begin on 27 March through to 3 May 2012.