Stafford hospital update: insanity reigns

I’ve written at length on this blog about the concerted and sustained hatchet-job that has been done on Stafford hospital (just search ‘Stafford’ and/or ‘Mid Staffs’ and/or ‘HSMR’) as part of the wider strategy by this government and the private health interests that back it.

For a long time, the people of Stafford have fought to keep their local acute services, with tens of thousands taking to the streets to support their hospital and its dedicated staff. Meanwhile, the constant smears by ministers and press continue and honours are awarded to those collaborating in the attack.

Plans to dismantle Stafford’s services and farm them out to a neighbouring NHS trust are utterly and unmistakably flawed, as they will cost more and achieve less than what is already in placeplans supposedly ‘reviewed’ by the same people who made them in the first place. But the fact that such plans are nonsensical and even insane doesn’t mean they won’t be forced through.

It’s not in the media yet, but the inside word from Stafford hospital is that staff have been told that ‘acute’ services – including obviously time-critical maternity and A&E services – will be discontinued and moved to the University Hospital of North Staffs (UHNS) in Stoke, which is a considerable drive away at the best of times.

On the same day as this internal announcement, UHNS was ‘on divert’ – sending patients to other hospitals – because it could not cope with its existing workload.

Merely idiotic – or malignant and insane? There’s only one realistic option.

Spread the word, support the people of Stafford in whatever way you can.

If this fight is lost, your hospital will follow.


  1. Absolutely agree – It is insane but only if you look at it from a patient/clinical point of view. Why would patients want to move from a hospital that has a safer record than the one they are being forced to use. MSFT is far superior to UNHS both in clinical and financial terms. But this is not about patient needs; who will have to travel for care; putting their lives at risk for doing so and having to pay for the privilege!
    If however you look at it from the private health companies perspective it makes perfect sense; move patients & staff to UNHS, sell off MSFT grounds to some rich property developer then privatise UNHS.
    No patient will win out of this scenario and the model will be replicated across the country.
    There was a reason the Tories picked Midstaffs and that was because they had strong allies in the Tory MPs there + Cure The NHS.
    Its about time people woke up to the fact that Midstaffs was no different from any other hospital, its just that its problems were exaggerated and embellished by those above so it could be shamelessly used as political fodder to manipulate the country into thinking the NHS would be better in private hands.
    Many people have had a hand to play in this and they continue to do so and because people don’t want to think the unthinkable so they let them get away with it.
    I am sickened by the whole thing, never have I seen such gutter politics at play. Never have I seen so many self serving people masquerading as patient champions or Whistleblower champions- all the while profiting from it.
    There is not much time to save the NHS – if it can be saved that is. We must continue the fight at all costs because once its gone – it is never coming back!

  2. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Stafford Hospital is certainly not the only the one to suffer closure or removal of services. Guy Debord’s Cat has also blogged about similar plans by the Tories to close down the local hospital in Hammersmith and Fulham. It really is all part of their plan to close down and privatise the NHS.

  3. Welcome back to the fray – been a bit busy myself what with being an NHS worker while everyone around us is trying to bugger it all up! You may be right that the TSA (for £15m and rising) came up with a plan that he thought might take the heat out of the situation (albeit more rubbishy and more expensive than one I could have come up with in a weekend for 15 quid). This then enables the 2 big Trusts that have taken the spoils and a backhander from HMG to slowly close everything (including services the TSA had “saved” or didn’t even consider) while nobody is watching!
    So instead of 1-2 years of utter misery followed by recovery to one of the best acute Trusts in the UK (and, maybe, sharing stuff with other hospitals with a problem) we have 1-2 years of misery followed by 1-2 years of recovery to one of the best acute Trusts in the UK followed by 2 years of messing around, upset and uncertainty followed by 5 years of a dog’s breakfast for Mid Staffs people followed by a health desert for 300,000.
    The main sufferers of this lack of access will, of course, be the disadvantaged, chronically sick, poor and impoverished. Excuse me but wasn’t the NHS set up mainly to benefit these populations? HMG and the metropolitan elite may not give a stuff about them but there a lot of very dedicated and caring staff in Mid Staffs Trust who do – and they are worthy of your support. Why were there 50,000 people on the march (the highest number pro-rata to the population affected by the issue at hand in the history of the UK)? – because they know that.

  4. Why isn’t this being plastered all over the front pages of the newspapers – there are so many people who care about this but don’t know what is happening. As everyone has said, it will be the disadvantaged who suffer most – the very people the NHS was set up to protect. Ye gods – what are we coming to?

    1. Because so many of those papers ‘bought into’ the whole Julie Bailey rubbish so to publish anything else would be to admit they were fooled and did not do their due diligence in thé first place.

  5. The people behind this treachery are not insane but calculating and utterly deceitful, they have the media behind them pumping out anti public service propaganda.

    Andrew Lansley did not just pop up after the last election and invent legislation due the the financial crisis, but it had been years in the making prior the general election, ready to swoop on an unsuspecting public, with all the people already installed and programmed to deliver privatisation.

    This is the culmination of forty years of Neo-Liberal crisis management, Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine” explains how this has been achieved.

    Link: http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/the-book

    This country is being asset stripped by the very people who are elected to protect our interests, I call it treachery.

    And where is the opposition?

  6. And, err, well, having been the stool-pigeons for the NHS by way of the 2 Francis Reports (290 recommendations that will keep the chattering classes gainfully employed for years) and the guinea-pigs for the “TSA process” (closing hospitals that fail to be enormous) we will now be the groundbreaking part of the country (fanfare ….) for really big clinical service privatisation. Is it a major surgical speciality like orthopaedics? No. Is it a major outpatient speciality like dermatology? No.
    It’s the WHOLE of Cancer Care AND palliative/end-of-ilfe care for pretty much the WHOLE of Staffordshire for 10 years in the first instance! You don’t believe me? Here are the links to the tenders:
    This is the first time this level of front line care has been put out to tender like this – with the full collusion of the local CCGs in continuance of their “Rabbits in the Headlights” act.. Shocking is hardly the word. I can’t see the ordinary people of Staffordshire being that chuffed when they are congratulated for taking part in this groundbreaking adventure. Still, as you fade away from your tumour that was (deep regret) too expensive to treat, at least you will know that you have contributed to the economy by way of shareholder dividend and director’s salaries!

  7. Every time you think things can’t get any worse – they do. God forgive these misguided people, because I am not sure I can.

  8. Interesting to see that Raj Mattu, Consultant Cardiologist from Coventry has won his case (one complaint about the facilities from him, which was certainly true, results in his being effectively off work for 12 years vs 200 accusations from the Trust Management at a legal cost of £6m, which turn out to be totally false). One is not amazed at this but sad that the people of Coventry have been denied his services all this time simply for pointing out what was obviously a dangerous management practice (also not to the benefit of the patients).

    All the senior managers involved in this appalling fiasco have, of course, gone on to more lucrative employment in the bullying hierarchy that passes for the ever changing NHS structure. One of these is David Loughton, who was CEO of the Coventry Trust at the time and is now CEO of Royal Wolverhampton (and was reported to have said that he didn’t just want Mattu off the road but his license taken off him too). Is this the same David Loughton who has been advising the DoH on what to do with Mid Staffs? Is there any advantage to Wolverhampton to slice off Cannock Hospital despite the massive disruption and risk this entails for the rest of Staffordshire which is knackered to say the least? Will this advantage result in a “highly performing” (financially, that’s always the criterion) Trust in Wolverhampton? And will this high performance result in David Loughton CBE (as he must always been referred to) being elevated to Sir, or even Lord David? It is reputed to be what he craves. The tentacles of the NHS general management club spread far and wide and their unscrupulous and fatuous behaviour knows no bounds.


    It has come to my attention that Mr Mark Hackett, CEO of UHNS, Stoke, is openly promulgating a plan for Stafford Hospital that results in a downgrading of services for the population almost as draconian as the CPT plan (in an unspecified timeframe but unlikely to be more than 3 years). In other words he has no intention of implementing the TSA model (supposedly having a 3 year implementation period and a 10 year horizon), is intent on downgrading services not even mentioned in the TSA model and is pursuing a “your bad luck” attitude to the fears, worries and legitimate (and in some cases evidence based) concerns of the population. A population, I hardly need remind you, who have been messed about with like no other as regard health services. The TSA plan was intended to mitigate (or certainly sold as mitigating) the damage done to local services by the national sport of knocking Stafford Hospital, a whole series of ineffective managements, a couple of public enquiries which may well have benefitted the NHS as a whole and the clear clinical risks and health inequalities (and access inequalities) inherent in the CPT plan – especially in acute services (the ones people really value). Questions:

    1) Who was aware of this unsolicited and certainly not commissioned Hackett plan? Should the public have been informed?

    2) If Mr Hackett is riding roughshod over the TSA process, does not command the confidence of the MSFT staff or the population of Stafford or Support Stafford Hospital, is he a fit person to be the CEO of UHNS, let alone the proposed larger Acute Trust?

    I have repeatedly warned about the possibility of “Under the wire” implementation of the CPT proposals, especially if the TSA process involved mergers (merger = closure, folks). This whole process has cost tens of millions of pounds (more?), which could have been much better spent supporting one of the fastest improving Trusts in the country serving the population of MId Staffs. Instead, there will be investment in even better services for the population of Stoke (who already have a greater range under the status quo) and crumbs from the table for the population of Mid Staffs.

    How do you think we ought to feel now?

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