Report due over scandal-hit trust
The team of administrators charged with deciding the future of the troubled Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will publish its final report today .
The Trust Special Administrators (TSAs) were appointed by independent health watchdog Monitor earlier this year to come up with a proposal on maintaining essential services at the scandal-hit trust, which runs Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals.
In their interim report in July, the administrators agreed with earlier findings that the trust was clinically and financially unsustainable, proposing Mid Staffs be dissolved altogether and some essential services including maternity and paediatrics be moved away from Stafford to other nearby hospitals.
Their then draft proposals would keep the current limited-hours A&E department running at that site, but would see the two hospitals taken over by larger neighbouring NHS trusts.
Campaign group Support Stafford Hospital has criticised any transfer of services away from Stafford because they believe it equates to a downgrade of the site.
Today the TSAs will publish their final proposal, following a lengthy public consultation period, although any final decision will have to be made by the Health Secretary before the end of this year.
The administrators were appointed after the Mid Staffs scandal and the subsequent inquiry which reported its findings in January this year and led to one of the biggest shake-ups in the health service's 65 years.
The inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC concluded there had been basic failings in standards of care, with some patients left lying in their own faeces, given the wrong medication and others so thirsty they drank the water from flower vases.
It had followed a 2009 Healthcare Commission inquiry, which found hundreds more people had died at Stafford Hospital than would ordinarily have been expected, between 2005 and 2008.
In the Francis Inquiry's final report, 290 recommendations were put forward to the Government on how to improve care in English hospitals and avoid another scandal like Mid Staffs.
In its response in November, the Government accepted 281 out of 290 recommendations, including 57 in principle and 20 in part.
Among those changes adopted were that from April 2014 all hospitals will have to publish monthly data showing staffing levels on wards, to aid transparency.
The Government stopped short of imposing a duty of candour on individual doctors and nurses to be more open and honest with families about errors and problems with their relatives' care, as recommended in the Francis report, instead placing the duty on organisations as a whole.
It also strengthened the duty of candour applied to individuals through clinicians' own professional bodies to encourage such behaviour as best practice among their membership.
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