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'Unsafe' emergency department services at County Hospital in Stafford closed to children

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust has suspended A&E services for young people because senior clinicians advised they were unsafe.
County Hospital

A&E services at a Midlands hospital have been suspended for under-18s because senior clinicians judged them unsafe.

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust said it acted yesterday because of a lack of professionally trained and experienced staff at County Hospital in Stafford.

The hospital, formerly known as Stafford Hospital, was the centre of a care scandal in the late 2000s which led to a wide-ranging inquiry chaired by Sir Robert Francis.

The trust said children should not be taken to County Hospital as walk-in patients, adding that those with minor illnesses and injuries should use primary care services such as their GP or community pharmacists.

Still call 999

Families who believe their children require emergency attention should still call 999 and their children will be taken to the most appropriate hospital, the trust said.

A&E services at a Midlands hospital have been suspended for under-18s because senior clinicians judged them unsafe.


County Hospital in Stafford Photo: Neil O'Connor

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust said it acted yesterday because of a lack of ‘professionally trained and experienced staff’ at County Hospital in Stafford.

The hospital, formerly known as Stafford Hospital, was the centre of a care scandal in the late 2000s which led to a wide-ranging inquiry chaired by Sir Robert Francis.

The trust said children should not be taken to County Hospital as walk-in patients, adding that those with minor illnesses and injuries should use primary care services such as their GP or community pharmacists.

Still call 999

Families who believe their children require emergency attention should still call 999 and their children will be taken to the most appropriate hospital, the trust said.

The safety concerns were highlighted in a draft report by the West Midlands Quality Review Service.

They related to not enough staff having specific levels of paediatric and anaesthetic training, including resuscitation and life-support. 

Senior clinicians conducted a training review and determined that the concerns could not be addressed in the short term, leading to the temporary suspension.

Impact on families

Chief nurse and acting deputy chief executive Liz Rix 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 those services are safe.’

Future options

She added that the suspension of services would provide the trust with time to consider future options for safe children’s services at the hospital.

About 30 children a day are seen in its emergency department.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said he was deeply disappointed by the suspension.

He said the trust must produce a detailed plan and timescale for the next steps ‘as a matter of urgency’.

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