Call for urgent solutions over children’s A&E

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The hospital trust behind the move to close Stafford County Hospital’s A&E department to children is being called to explain its decision to councillors.

Stafford Borough Council Leader Patrick Farrington told members of the Council’s Cabinet last night answers were needed in order to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

He told the meeting he had also arranged a briefing with the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust’s acting chief executive.

And he called on the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee to scrutinise and extract information and put together a forward plan to explain how the trust will reopen the centre urgently.

“All of us here are in the same position as users/potential users for our children, be it as parents, grandparents, guardians and so we must all explore what can be done and what can be done urgently,” he said.

Quoting the Trust Special Administrator (TSA), he said that the report had been unequivocal in its wording about providing emergency children’s services in Stafford and the suspension of those services had led to “unacceptable consequences”.

“Let’s be clear, a three-year-old should not be left in pain, a parent should not have to drive to Wolverhampton with her young son in pain with a broken arm, a mother should not have to take her 10-year-old son with a broken collar bone to be turned away and told to go to Stoke,” he said.

“These are some examples of the unacceptable consequences of the decision to suspend the Children’s Emergency Centre here in Stafford when it has been a well used, well respected centre, staffed by hard working and caring staff who are also shocked at the decision.”

Councillor Farrington stressed it was important not to interfere with clinical decisions.

“Of course what we must not do, because none of us are in any way qualified to do, is interfere with a clinical decision to suspend services,” he said. “It would be wrong
and dangerous to do otherwise. We have no right to criticise the decision per se if it is made on grounds of safety to patients.”

But he said it was time to stick together in order to solve the crisis.

“Divide and rule is not helpful to anyone,” he said. “I imagine that there will be cross party support when we discuss this at full Council later this month.”

He welcomed MP Jeremy Lefroy’s contact with Jeremy Hunt and the Prime Minister, as well as the medical director of the trust and the acting chief executive.

“We must encourage the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee to scrutinise and extract information and a forward plan to tell us how the trust will reopen the centre urgently,” he said.

“I have invited the hospital trust to come and explain to councillors what has happened, why, and how things can be put right and I have also arranged a briefing with the acting chief executive.

“We must be told what measures the trust is now putting into place as a matter of urgency to ensure that sufficient numbers of suitably qualified staff are available for both Royal Stoke and County Hospitals.

“These are just some of the things that we can do in addition to other avenues that can be pursued to get back our children’s services.”