The Emergency Department at County Hospital in Stafford has announced today that it will not be treating under-18s due to a lack of qualified staff.
Any ill children who arrive will be sent by ambulance to another hospital.
It’s a sign that the paediatric workforce is at breaking, said Dr David Evans, Vice President for Training and Assessment for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
“If we are to prevent similar cases like the one of Stafford hospital today, decision makers must take urgent action. In the short term we need to see an increase to trainee and consultant numbers and better advanced planning of emergency and non-emergency rotas,” Evans said.
The interim measure was brought in due to a lack of ‘professionally trained and experienced staff’, the hospital said.
Adult emergency services at the scandal-hit hospital remain unaffected and will stay open.
Commenting on the suspension of County Hospital’s children’s A&E services, Liz Rix, chief nurse and acting deputy chief executive of the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust – which runs the hospital – said she understood the news may worry parents.
“I fully appreciate the impact these temporary changes will have on families in Stafford and the surrounding area, and understand that people will be very concerned about this news.
“However, we cannot and will not continue to deliver services without the confidence that those services are safe,” she said.
The news comes amid A&E closures across the country and senior doctors warn of a severe shortage of doctors, especially accident and emergency specialists.
The RCPCH’s Evans added: “In the long term more care needs to be delivered in the community by multi-disciplinary teams of paediatricians, GPs and nurses. And with children accounting for around a quarter of a typical GP’s workload, GPs deserve far greater support to help equip them with the skills needed to manage a child’s health needs safely at home and prevent unnecessary hospital admission, where possible.”