Regulator intervenes in last-ditch bid to turn around scandal-hit NHS trust where 'up to 1,200 patients more than expected died' in three years
The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is at the centre of an 11million inquiryFinancial overhaul has been demanded by independent regulator Monitor
Fears it could become the second NHS trust to be put into special administrationSouth London Healthcare Trust was put under the charge of a special administrator in June
11:08 GMT, 11 September 2012
A scandal-hit NHS hospital trust that
'routinely neglected patients' has been ordered to overhaul its
back-office functions in a bid to turn around its appalling record.
As many as 1,200 patients more than
expected died across hospitals run by the Mid Staffordshire NHS
Foundation Trust in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008.
As a result Mid Staffs, which has
foundation trust status – a supposed marker of excellence in the NHS –
is at the centre of an 11million public inquiry.
With the result due next month,
independent regulator Monitor is now calling in firms offering financial
advice, accountancy, administrative and legal services to recommend how
the trust should run its services.
Dogged by controversy: Financial experts are being called in to try and salvage Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stafford Hospital (pictured)
Monitor said the move is aimed at protecting the health services for patients.
The specialists will explore a number of options including hiving off services to private healthcare providers and they could even recommend that the trust is put into special administration.
The experts, who will bid for the roles through a competitive tender, will start work shortly and will deliver a report by spring next year.
It means Mid Staffs, which runs both Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals, could become the second NHS trust to be put into special administration.
South London Healthcare Trust was put under the charge of a special administrator in June for being on the brink of bankruptcy.
The trust, which runs three hospitals in the capital, was the first trust to be put on an 'unsustainable providers regime' because it was losing 1million a week.
The findings of the inquiry into both the failings at Mid Staffs between 2005 and 2009 and the role of regulators will be delivered to the Government by chair Robert Francis QC in mid-October.
In 2009, a highly critical report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said appalling standards put patients at risk.
Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the commission said.
In February 2010, an independent inquiry into events at the trust found it had 'routinely neglected patients'.
The trust is in danger of following the South London Healthcare Trust, which runs three hospitals including Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich (pictured) and was put under the charge of a special administrator for being on the brink of bankruptcy
Dr David Bennett, chair and interim chief executive of Monitor, said: 'We have been working closely with Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to improve its performance.
'It has made significant improvements in the clinical care provided for patients, but we need to make sure these services can be secured in the long term.
'It is therefore time for us, as the sector regulator, to step in and look for a solution that ensures services are provided for local patients on a sustainable basis.
'We have an open mind about the form that solution might take, but it should be the best one for patients in the long term.'
Lyn Hill-Tout, chief executive of the trust, said: 'We are hopeful that the outcome of this review by Monitor will be that decisions are made about which services are to be provided at Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals.
'Reviews of the trust over the last few years and the changes to the way healthcare has begun to be provided nationally have led to a growing feeling of uncertainty about the future of the two hospitals.
'We welcome Monitor working with our commissioners so that clear decisions are taken which ensure that the healthcare needs of local people are met in a truly sustainable way. We will, of course, give Monitor every support and will cooperate fully with their review team.'
Foundation Trust Network director of strategy and communications Saffron Cordery said: 'The Foundation Trust Network supports all efforts to improve quality and sustainability of services for patients in Staffordshire and welcome this recognition of the value of resolving issues in the healthcare economy at a regional level.
'The health service continues to be under enormous financial pressure and many changes will have to be made – not just in Staffordshire.
'We need to find different ways of commissioning and delivering the services needed to deal with changing patterns of healthcare.'