July 2017 Update
I recently pressed the Health Secretary on the importance of County Hospital A&E department as a critical part of the regional emergency infrastructure.
A&E departments and associated acute care at district hospitals, such as Stafford and Burton, are a critical part of the regional emergency infrastructure and ensure that the large city-based departments can deal with major trauma specialist cases as well as day to day emergencies.
The Health Secretary said that he recognised the concern at County Hospital and made clear that he would be monitoring the situation very closely.
Many people now tell me how good their experience at County Hospital, Stafford is. I wish to see a return to the doors opening 24 hours a day. At the moment it is seeing 800 or more patients a week and often within the national 4 hour target. That is as many as when it was open 24 hours a day. The wards are being refurbished, as are the operating theatres. There is a new chemotherapy suite, a new dialysis suite, and MRI scanner and a new endoscopy unit.
The idea that patients would be better served by taking emergency services away from Stafford is clearly not acceptable. I am pleased the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust (UHNM) recognises that.
May 2016 Update
The work on the renovation of County Hospital continues as I saw during a recent visit. I am pleased to report that the new Ward B is due to open in July, and Ward 10 will move there.
The work already complete includes the new dialysis unit which has 12 hemodialysis stations (up from 7 previously), laminar flow operating theatres and an MRI scanner. The refurbished chemotherapy unit will open later in 2016, and the work on other wards and A&E is due to be completed next year.
I also visited patients on the wards to hear of their experience of care. It was good to hear their positive comments about their stay in County and in particular about the staff. I am always keen to hear of constituents’ experiences of any part of our National Health Service. This helps me both to raise real concerns and to thank people for excellent care.
May 2015 Update
Conservatives pledge return to 24/7 A & E at Stafford when “Clinically Safe”
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, recently visited Stafford and announced that a future Conservative Government would be committed to returning A & E services through the night at Stafford as soon as it is clinically safe.
Services through the night were removed for Stafford in 2011 due to concerns over safety and Mr Hunt made it clear that safety was always a top priority. He said: “I would only ever agree to something that is clinically safe, however, it is the ambition of a future Conservative Government to bring back 24 hour A & E. That is my commitment to the people of Stafford”
Jeremy Lefroy, the Conservative Candidate in Stafford, who Mr Hunt praised for his “tireless work on behalf of the people of Stafford”, commented: “I very much welcome this commitment. I have been pressing for this for a long time and it is a very strong step in the right direction. It is also what the people served by Stafford’s hospital deserve”
Mr Hunt also expressed his anger at the scaremongering that had been going on during the current election campaign. He praised the excellent staff at Stafford and observed how the hospital had made consistent improvements over recent years. He said: “Stafford has a thriving hospital and responsible politicians should get behind it”.
In November 2014, our hospital received a resounding vote of confidence in its future from the NHS and Government. As it comes together with the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke, it will receive more capital investment than at any time since it was built in the early 1980’s.
The Accident and Emergency Department will double in area, wards will be refurbished and operating theatres renewed, all to the most modern standards. It will also have a new MRI scanner.
Stafford Hospital is now called the County Hospital and, together with the Royal Stoke University Hospital, is part of the University Hospitals of the North Midlands (UHNM). So we are now fully part of a university hospital trust, continuing the strong link with Keele University Medical School bringing additional opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate education here.
As a community, we have fought for the future of our hospital through times when it seemed that it was futile. Often people told me that the hospital was bound to close, become a ‘cottage hospital’ or be privatised.
None of this has happened. Instead we have what is said to be the single largest local investment in the NHS at the moment in Stafford and Stoke - £250 million. This is not a Private Finance Initiative, with high future costs, this is capital and revenue funding from the Government over and above what would normally come to the area.
I want to pay tribute to everyone who has campaigned. In my many meetings with the Government, the Department of Health and Monitor, as well as questions, speeches and a petition in the House of Commons, it is knowing the commitment which we all have to our local NHS that has driven me on.
…..while the campaign for more local services continues
Of course, we cannot stop here. I will continue to campaign for a return to a 24/7 Accident and Emergency department with children’s services alongside it. We have had the encouraging news that an overnight doctor-led service will be started at Stafford from April 2015. That would be a step in the right direction. But we need to go further.
The same is true for consultant-led maternity services. Childbirth at Stafford will continue in a midwife-led unit, which is a partial victory for our campaign. But I will be arguing to the NHS England led review into maternity services at Stafford and nationally that there continues to be an important role for smaller consultant-led units such as Stafford, especially when networked with larger units such as that at Stoke.
At least 90% of current patients will continue to be seen in Stafford or in Cannock.