Advising with empathy and experience

Children's A&E services suspended.

Children's accident and emergency services at a hospital with a recent record of difficulties have been suspended after senior staff said it was "not clinically safe."

A shortage of staff with the right specialist training at Stafford's County Hospital has forced its closure to patients under 18, although it remains open to adults, the health trust has confirmed.

Chief nurse and acting deputy chief executive, Liz Rix, said it was "a difficult short-term decision" to suspend the children's A&E service, which deals with about 30 children a day.

She said: "I fully appreciate the impact these temporary changes will have on families in Stafford and the surrounding area, and understand that people will be very concerned about this news. However, we cannot, and will not, continue to deliver services without the confidence that they are safe."

A representative of campaign group North Staffordshire Healthwatch, Ian Syme,  said it was right to suspend services if there was not enough paediatricians, but he warned that hospitals in nearby areas, such as Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton, could face a "surge" in demand.

He said: "I can understand the fears of the people in the Stafford area, but suspending services is the safest of the options."

A University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust spokesman said the suspension  of children’s A&S services would not cause problems with capacity at other hospitals in the trust, adding Royal Stoke University Hospital was already the centre for children needing specialist care.

The hospital, previously Stafford Hospital, was the subject of a year-long public inquiry between 2010 and 2011 after a higher-than-expected number of deaths between 2005 to 2008 and 290 recommendations for ‘fundamental change’ were made.

The trust which ran what was then known as Stafford Hospital was dissolved and a new one, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, was created in November 2014.

In July 2015, the CQC said the trust 'required improvement' and in March 2016 it was reported to be facing fines of up to £9m for failing to meet government targets.

Maternity care led by consultants was also moved from County Hospital in July to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, when the new trust started running.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he was "deeply disappointed" by the closure of children’s A&E services.

Stafford Borough Council leader Patrick Farrington said the situation was "unacceptable" and "devastating" for parents. "This service must be reinstated as soon as it is safe to do so," he said.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.