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Monitor steps in to seek long-term solution for patients
A plan to protect health services for patients at a financially-challenged hospital trust is being drawn up for Monitor, the independent regulator, on behalf of the local community.
Experts are being called in to recommend a viable long-term solution for patients who use services currently provided by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Following a competitive tender, the experts will start work shortly with the aim of delivering a report to Monitor setting out an agreed plan to provide the hospital services that local patients need.
A contingency planning team will work closely with local commissioners and clinicians, building on work already undertaken through the Strategic Health Authority to look into options for the provision of healthcare services in Staffordshire. The initiative has been agreed with NHS partners nationally and locally.
In due course the experts will also determine the best way of achieving a solution – such as by a solvent restructuring of the trust, or possibly placing the trust in special administration. A final report will be delivered to Monitor in spring 2013.
Dr David Bennett, chair and interim chief executive of Monitor, said:
"We have been working closely with Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to improve its performance. It has made significant improvements in the clinical care provided for patients, but we need to make sure these services can be secured in the long-term.
"It is therefore time for us as the sector regulator to step in and look for a solution that ensures services are provided for local patients on a sustainable basis. We have an open mind about the form that solution might take, but it should be the best one for patients in the long-term."
Lyn Hill-Tout, chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said:
"We are hopeful that the outcome of this review by Monitor will be that decisions are made about which services are to be provided at Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals.
"Reviews of the Trust over the last few years and the changes to the way healthcare has begun to be provided nationally have led to a growing feeling of uncertainty about the future of the two hospitals.
We welcome Monitor working with our commissioners so that clear decisions are taken which ensure that the healthcare needs of local people are met in a truly sustainable way. We will of course give Monitor every support and will cooperate fully with their review team."
For media inquiries contact Jon Hibbs, Head of Media and Stakeholder Relations on 0207 340 2446 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 07867 538012.
Monitor is the independent regulator of NHS-funded health care services. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 its fundamental duty is to protect and promote the interests of people who use them. More information about Monitor’s new role can be found here.
The work of the contingency planning team in Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will be modelled on the framework set out in the Act, which gives Monitor powers to ensure the continuity of services for patients if a provider’s financial viability puts them at risk.
These powers come into effect in April 2013, but Monitor has agreed with the Department of Health, the NHS Commissioning Board, the NHS Trust Development Authority and the SHA to exercise them now on a voluntary basis in this particular case.
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For further information about Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, contact Claire Hall, communications manager, on 07773 048641 (email@example.com).