Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspectors of Hospitals has urged the organisations overseeing the moving of services from Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to other providers to develop a clear transition plan without delay.
Professor Richards has written to Monitor, the Trust Development Authority and the Trust Special Administrator following an urgent inspection of the trust carried out at their request. The CQC’s full report on the inspection will be published next month.
The inspection took place between 30 June and 2 July.
It looked specifically at whether the trust’s clinical services were safe. The inspection team, chaired by Mr Andy Welch, Medical Director of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, concluded that services were safe, but staffing levels were only just adequate in some areas, particularly on medical wards.
The inspection team was not assured about the sustainability of services and warned that should recruitment or retention fall by even one or two people in some key posts, services would become unsafe.
In his letter, Professor Richards wrote: ‘The senior managers at MSFT, including the chief executive are having to spend inordinate amounts of time ensuring that individual nursing shifts are adequately filled and that sufficient numbers of medical staff will be available for different services. To date they have been able to do this, but I would emphasise the word just.’
Professor Richards continued: ‘We were both surprised and very concerned that a clear transition plan has yet to be developed to ensure the safe transition of responsibility for clinical services to the agreed model of care over the next four months. This clearly requires the full involvement of MSFT and other organisations in the wider health economy.
‘In addition, the workforce at MSFT needs clarity as soon as possible about what is going to happen next. The current uncertainty is contributing to the fatigue and fragility amongst staff. The transition plan should therefore include a commitment by the acquiring organisations to support medical and nursing staff levels at Mid Staffs over the next four months so that services remain safe.’