Doubts over shamed NHS trust may put it into administration

THE scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire NHS trust could be plunged into administration over severe doubts about its future, it was announced yesterday.

Julie Bailey, founder of Cure The NHS with protesters outside an NHS board meeting in Manchester.
Julie Bailey, founder of Cure The NHS with protesters outside an NHS board meeting in Manchester.

Officials from regulator Monitor are considering the move to “safeguard services” for local patients.

South London Healthcare NHS Trust last year became the first NHS trust to be put into administration after it started losing around £1.3m a week. But Mid Staffs could be the first elite foundation trust – a supposed marker of excellence in the health service – to face the same fate.

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The trust was at the centre of a landmark inquiry into the “disaster” at Stafford Hospital where hundreds of patients died needlessly after they were routinely neglected.

An independent review led by Ernst & Young into the trust, on behalf of Monitor, has concluded the organisation is neither clinically nor financially sustainable.

Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: “We are now consulting on whether to appoint trust special administrators with the expertise to reorganise services in a way which is clinically robust and sustainable.

“Their priority will be to make sure that patients can continue to access the services that they need and they will work with the local community to do this.”

The chairman at Mid Staffs, Prof John Caldwell, said: “The prime concern of the present board has been to ensure the delivery of safe and sustainable services of high quality to the communities served by our hospitals at Cannock and Stafford. We have accepted for some time that Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, working alone cannot produce a long lasting solution to the issues we face to ensure financial and clinical sustainability.”

Campaigners from Staffordshire walked out of a meeting of health bosses yesterday after under-fire NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson was given the backing of his board.

Members of Cure the NHS, set up by families of patients caught up in the Stafford Hospital scandal, had earlier staged a protest outside the meeting.

A member of the public shouted “shameful” as Prof Malcolm Grant, the chairman of the NHS Commissioning Board, said Sir David was the person “we wish very strongly” to lead the organisation.

Prof Grant said: “He is the person whose command of the detail of the NHS, and his commitment and his passion to its future, we believe to be fundamental to the success of the board.”

Following a discussion about the Francis report into the scandal, Sir David said: “What you need to do is absorb the criticisms and understand it in a deep way and do something about it. We need to put the entire weight of the NHS, both the patients and the people working in it, to shift that culture in the right way.”

Fourteen NHS trusts are being investigated over their higher-than-expected mortality rates in the wake of the Francis report among them the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It has been announced the team from Ernst & Young, which reviewed the sustainability of the Mid Staffs trust, will begin a similar review of services in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole.

Managers have also approached officials at the neighbouring Doncaster and Bassetlaw trust, which has lower death rates, to carry out a review comparing mortality levels.

Wendy Booth, the trust’s director of clinical and quality assurance, said a number of external reviews into its death rates had been launched. “The trust has approached Ernst & Young to undertake a review of the sustainability and quality of the organisation’s clinical services,” she added.