PERFORMANCE: The accident and emergency department at Stafford Hospital will re-open next month Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said during a vist to the new emergency department at University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

Mr Lansley said he believed the A&E department, which was closed overnight in December due to fears over patient safety, will re-open once enough staff have been recruited.

The trust has said it hopes to re-open a full 24 hour seven day service in June, providing it meets crucial safety criteria.

He was speaking during a visit to the new £400m University Hospital of North Staffordshire hospital in Stoke-on-Trent.

The new site includes a heli-pad and state-of-the-art A&E department operating as a regional trauma centre for the West Midlands.

During his visit, Mr Lansley said Mid Staffs was moving on from the past adding: “It’s a long and difficult process, but we are working through the problems at Stafford.

“I know no reason to think that they won’t reopen. It’s essentially about recruitment of staff. Obviously it’s tough. We still have the Robert Francis report and the results of this inquiry to come.

“But at some point we have to move on from these problems. We are working with local commissioners and I think during the course of this year we will turn the corner.”

Since the closure of Stafford Hospital’s A&E between 10pm and 8am an average of six patients a night have been diverted to North Staffordshire with the remainder going to nearby Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust in the West Midlands.