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Inspectors to begin latest Stafford Hospital probe next week

Health inspectors are being sent into Stafford Hospital next week to assess patient safety over staff shortages, it has emerged.

Interim managers at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust are concerned enough to have invited the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to carry out “a review of the safety of acute services” at the hospital, as reported last week by Nursing Times.

The inspectors will start work on Monday 30 June, and are due to publish a report of their findings later in the year.

Last week, the trust special administrators (TSAs) running Mid-Staffs said recruiting and retaining enough staff had become “a significant challenge” leading to “fragility” in providing services, and asked the CQC to review patient safety.

“As part of this inspection we will, of course, be talking to doctors and nurses, hospital managers and patients at the trust”

Mike Richards

The trust itself is due to be dissolved and its services taken over by other NHS trusts, after the TSA concluded it was “not clinically or financially sustainable” in the long term.

The trust has continued to struggle in recruiting and keeping staff in part because of the fall-out from the high profile care failings identified there around six years ago.

The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richard said members of his inspection panel would be talking to doctors, nurses, hospital managers and patients to chart their experiences.

The CQC will be looking in detail at the work of Stafford’s key services, including accident and emergency, maternity, surgery and radiology.

He added the inspection was not an assessment of the TSAs’ work, but of the standard of clinical care being offered at Stafford.

A “listening event” is to be held at the Kingston Centre in Stafford from 6.30pm on June 30, when people will be able to make their views clear to the inspectors.

The public can also share their views on care at Stafford by ringing 03000 616161, visiting the CQC website, or emailing enquiries@cqc.org.uk.

Sir Mike said: “As part of this inspection we will, of course, be talking to doctors and nurses, hospital managers and patients at the trust.

“But it is vital that we also hear the views of the people who have recently received care at the trust, or anyone who wants to share information with us.

“This will help us plan our inspection, and so help us focus on the things that really matter to people who depend on this service. This is your opportunity to tell the team what you think about the current care at the trust.”

Sir Mike Richards

Sir Mike Richards

In a statement last week, the TSA said it had “written to the CQC formally requesting its assistance as part of the ongoing efforts by all parties to continue to deliver existing patient services currently provided by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust in a safe way”.

It added: “The fragility of the trust’s services, due to staff recruitment and retention, has been a constant and well-documented issue which first emerged prior to the appointment of the TSAs.

“We anticipate that the CQC will now conduct a focused inspection of the trust and report on its findings as soon as is possible.”

The TSA said the hospital remains open and services are running “as normal”.

When the trust dissolves, responsibility for its services will be split between University Hospitals of North Staffordshire Trust and Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust.

All the staff working at Stafford and the trust’s other hospital at Cannock Chase are due to be transferred across to neighbouring health trusts in November.

In February 2013, the Francis Report concluded there had been basic failings in standards of care at Stafford, with hundreds more patients dying than would have been expected from 2005-08.

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