PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission is to undertake an “urgent review” of safety at Stafford Hospital after the special administrators of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust raised concerns about the “fragility” of services at the troubled provider.

The care regulator agreed to hold the review following a request for assistance from the trust special administrators and other bodies.

In a statement the trust special administrators said: “The fragility of the trust’s services, due to staff recruitment and retention, has been a constant and well documented issue which first emerged prior to the appointment of the TSAs.

“Since the start of the TSA process in April 2013, the TSAs have been working with Monitor and local providers to address the issue. However it has now become a significant challenge.

Stafford Hospital

Mid Staffordshire Hospitals FT is due to be dissolved this year

“In such circumstances it is good NHS practice to ensure that all other relevant bodies, such as the CQC, are informed appropriately of any such issues which may affect the provision of safe patient services.”

The administrators said they expected the CQC to conduct a focused inspection of the trust and report on its findings “as soon as is possible”. The TSAs would then consider the regulator’s findings and act accordingly to ensure patient safety.

In a statement, CQC chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards said: “The CQC has been approached by Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority, the TSAs and by both Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and University Hospitals North Staffordshire Trust to undertake an urgent review of the safety of acute services at Stafford Hospital. The CQC has agreed to this request.”

He said the regulator was currently planning the inspection and recruiting appropriate specialist advisers.

A spokesman for Monitor said: “The safety of patients is the absolute priority and we support the TSAs’ decision to ask the CQC to carry out an inspection.”

In February HSJ reported that Mid Staffordshire was considering further restrictions to accident and emergency opening hours at Stafford Hospital due to a shortage of nurses.

Trust chief executive Maggie Oldham said at the time that the trust did not have enough experienced nurses because of the “reputation of Mid Staffs” and “uncertainty about the future”.

The trust is due to be dissolved by the end of 2014 with its services transferred to either University Hospitals of North Staffordshire Trust or Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust.