Children's emergency services will not reopen at Stafford's County Hospital

Children's emergency services will remain closed at Stafford's County Hospital, following a review.

It was carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who heard from 350 staff, carers, stakeholders and residents, and held meetings with local patient and public representatives.

They have recommended to bosses that returning to a Children’s Emergency Centre (CEC) model of service would be unsafe and unsustainable.

It's report stated that while there is a clear demand for a local service at County Hospital, the relatively small numbers of patients made it difficult for staff to maintain clinical competence.

It has recommended introducing a GP-led urgent care centre, which UHNM and Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group will now start work on to implement.

Services suspended

Children's emergency services have been suspended since August 2016 over safety concerns highlighted by the West Midlands Quality Review Service and senior clinicians.

A Minor Injuries Unit was then brought in for under-16s in October 2016, and that will remain in place until the urgent care facility is established.

The report stated that 46% of patients attending the MIU had minor illnesses, and should have attended Children’s Services at Royal Stoke University Hospital or seen their GP. 

It highlighted a risk that if the MIU continued to operate similarly to how the CEC did for a prolonged period of time (i.e. accepting patients with minor illnesses), then seriously ill children may not be identified quickly enough to receive timely and appropriate care.

Dr Ann Marie Morris, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine, said: “Whilst there will be obvious disappointment at this news, it’s crucial that we continue to work together on providing a clinically safe service for the children of Stafford and surrounds at County Hospital.

"I was pleased that the RCPCH report highlighted the committed and dedicated nature of the team working on the Minor Injuries Unit for under-16s at County Hospital.”

Andrew Donald, Chief Executive of Stafford and Surrounds CCG, said: “The CCG accepts the findings of the report and agrees that patient safety must remain our priority.

"We also have to find a way to make sure that patients are seen by the most appropriate service and will be working with the Trust on the recommendation to implement a GP front of house service in the Accident and Emergency Department at County Hospital, which we believe will help to support this.”


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