NHS bosses defend decision to keep Stafford Hospital's A&E shut at night
NHS funding bodies have defended their decision to keep Stafford Hospital's A&E shut at nights – despite bosses saying it is safe to reopen.
The unit has been closed between 10pm and 8am since last December because of a shortage of doctors.
Directors of Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, have voted for the A&E re-opening after claiming enough medics have now been recruited to resume an around-the-clock service.
But experts from the county's primary care trusts, which monitor safety at the centre, said it would still take only one doctor to go on leave or off sick to force A&E to shut again at nights.
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They also revealed that a review showed that the patients diverted either to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire or other centres had done better medically than if they had been treated at Stafford.
PCT chairman Alex Fox said: "There are lessons here for all FTs and providers that they have to be more interrogative and seek more evidence when reaching major decisions."
The decision to over-rule Stafford's directors had been taken by the PCTs behind closed doors but at their meeting yesterday, chief executive Graham Urwin said: "We must put safety of patients first and there is evidence that they have better outcomes when services are centralised."
Medical director Dr Ken Deacon added: "The decision was made by GPs, specialists and other professionals who believed the service would have been worse by Stafford re-opening at night."