What the CQC says about Stafford – yet govt still wants to close it

With surprisingly (or not!) little fanfare, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on Stafford hospital was published a few days ago. Given the continued brickbats hurled at the hospital and just about anyone associated with it by politicians and “patients’ groups” like ‘Cure the NHS’, the verdict of the report might surprise you.

The CQC’s report leads with a graphic that shows how the hospital is performing against expectations:


According to the website, a green tick means:

All standards were being met when we last checked. (If this service has not had a CQC inspection since it registered with us, our check may be based on our assessment of declarations and evidence supplied by the service itself.)

The bracketed part of the description definitely does not apply to Stafford, as the hospital was inspected on the 1st, 4th and 5th of February.

Disturbingly, but definitely unsurprisingly, the report also states (as the image shows) that the inspection was carried out because of

concerns that standards weren’t being met.

But it’s not the possibility that standards are not being met that is disturbing – it is the fact that these concerns were raised at all.

You see, the hospital was inspected less than 9 months ago, in June 2012. The result?


Stafford Hospital was meeting all the essential standards of quality and safety‘.

For another inspection to be arranged so soon because of ‘concerns’ raised about standards in a hospital that had been ‘green-ticked’ in all areas can only mean one thing.

That someone – or more likely a collection of someones – is agitating against Stafford Hospital without good reason. Or to put it another way, the raising of these ‘concerns’ betrays another agenda being followed, and a mischievous (or more likely malevolent) one.

The timing of the ‘concerns’ that triggered the inspection, while Monitor’s report on Mid Staffs’ viability was in its final phase of preparation, seems unlikely to be mere coincidence.

The fact that the CQC report could find no fault with the hospital, but that Monitor has still decided that the Trust is financially and clinically unviable, tells its own story of the real reasons and motives for the attack on Stafford hospital, and through it on the people of Stafford themselves.

What do patients say about this ‘financially and clinically un-viable hospital? The CQC report tells us:

the patients we spoke with were positive about the care they had received in the hospital. One patient told us, “I was in a lot of pain but they have sorted it. Eleven patients all told us, “I cannot fault the care”. One patient told us that they needed frequent stays in Stafford and other hospitals and said, “I have been on a number of wards, I have always been well cared for and am always treated well. I have had a better experience in this hospital than others I have been in”. Parents that we spoke with on the children’s ward told us that their child had received, “Brilliant care” and, “Excellent care”..
We saw positive and friendly interaction between staff and patients in the hospital. Staff were seen to be friendly, polite and respectful. Patients told us, “Nothing is too much for them”, “I’m sure if I was worried about anything it would be sorted” and, “They are very good but I would still tell them if I was not happy”.

The media and politicians are hammering away ceaselessly at Mid Staffs, exploiting – and grossly distorting – past troubles to get away with destroying yet another NHS hospital.

But the CQC’s report makes absolutely clear – for anyone not wilfully blind to it – that Stafford is a good hospital. Perhaps even a great one. And certainly one that the people of Stafford will be massively worse off without.

Show support to Stafford hospital and the people of Stafford – and for the NHS here, and write to your MP to demand that they take concerted action to save the hospital from the unwarranted attack on it.

(Edit: There is now a petition on the government’s e-petition website calling for a referendum of local people before any measures are taken re Stafford and Cannock hospitals. It needs 100,000 signatures to go forward for Parliamentary debate and is already at over 2,000. Please sign the petition here and publicise it via your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Thank you!)


  1. The only person to come out of the Stafford Health Trust, is the former Chairman of the trust, who surprisingly is a close friend/colleague of David Cameron, who has been promoted to Chairman of the NHS, is this a case of promoted for being incompetent.

  2. On the government epetitions website is a petition just started to demand a referendum for the people of Mid Staffs to see whether they want acute care to continue by the Trust (ie what do the silent majority want?). More than 2000 signatures already. 100,000 gets a discussion in parliament doesn’t it? Roll up! (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk and search Stafford). Blog very well put as usual – thanks.

    1. Thanks! I’ve added it to the ‘action’ section at the bottom of the post and will tweet/Facebook it. Hopefully will get you plenty of new signatures!

  3. Thanks for your commentary .

    As a new starter at the trust I came here partly out of curiosity on a temporary basis until something better came along.

    I previously worked in the other trust currently under fire – Lewisham Hospital : a wonderful inner city hospital with a fantastic attitude of caring towards its sometimes difficult inner city population.

    A lot of what I have seen since I arrived at midstaffs has been very much at odds with what I read in the press and hear on the radio and television. Your blog rings true with the evidence of what I have witnessed in the hospital. A group of very kind, well intentioned individuals doing their utmost best – going out of their way to care for the people who walk through the doors of the two hospitals at Stafford and Cannock.

    It’s such a lovely hospital it has seduced me to stay here as a permanent member of staff. All you have to do to get clinical sustainability is to employ more people – anyone who has a trial period here would be more than delighted to stay and bring the trust forward from the corner where it has been browbeaten into staying. But there needs to be an active PR campaign to bring this forward…

    I would be delighted to help in anyway I can to keep this wonderful little hospital.

  4. I am afraid, from my experience with my Mother in Crumpsall Hospital (North Manchester General Hospital) and the CQC, I have no faith in any report they produce. It gave Crumpsall a clean bill of health, when there were serious failings, especially in the care of the elderly. Like must regulatory bodies in the UK, they just conduct ‘tick-in-the-box’ exercises. The wards were under-staffed, with most nurses trying their best to cope. But a total disregard of the elderly by doctors and other health care-workers. One ward my mother was placed in had one nurse and an auxiliary, to look after 28 elderly female patients, totally inadequate staffing to provide the care required.

  5. You have to live and work in Stafford to appreciate that although regulators can miss things or just go to the wrong places, that will not apply here because 1) they are looking for any failings at all and 2) MSFT is probably one of the most open organisations in the NHS.
    See BMJ articles in 2010 regarding HMSRs and “spotlighting” (i.e. if you shine a strong enough light you will find problems anywhere). Sorry your mum did not get the care you and she would have wished. The Francis report wants a change in NHS culture and for the NHS to be less finance driven (ironically if you get the quality right, it’s usually cheaper but very few managers/politicians realise/accept that). Francis probably should have been more specific in terms of elderly care viz what are the minimum trained/untrained numbers and ratio of nurses required for acute elderly care/general medical wards? …. and are the tariffs appropriate to support that (tariffs are a lot easier to work out for cold surgery than for such initial presentations to hospital as “off legs”, “confusion”, “abdominal pain”, “shortness of breath” etc).

  6. Smahroof – I’m sure the staff will appreciate that you think the hospital is wonderful …. but little? Sure, not on a par with the large institutions that are too big to fail but covering a substantial geography and population out of two sites. There are many much smaller units that seem to be viable whether part of larger organisations (so they cease to be counted as separate entities) or not. One of the problems highlighted in these blogs is that MSFT can be made to look smaller than it actually is. Do you spend your working time drinking cocktails through lack of work – I doubt it!

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