Children's Emergency Services at County Hospital Temporarily Suspended on Safety Grounds
A Minor Injuries Unit at County Hospital for under 16s launched on Monday 10 October 2016. Sixteen and 17 year-olds can use the main Accident & Emergency Department at County Hospital, Stafford.
Accident and Emergency services at County Hospital in Stafford continue to be temporarily suspended for children and people under the age of 16 due to concerns about safety.
The Minor Injuries Unit can be used to treat children with a variety of minor injuries only.
The Minor Injuries Unit should be used for:
- Head injuries
- Limb injuries
- Sprains, bruises, fractures
The Minor Injuries Unit should not be used for:
- Illnesses (111/GP)
- Rash/fever (111/GP)
- Vomiting/diarrhoea (111/GP)
- Chronic illnesses (111/GP)
- Severely unwell/injured (999)
Any unwell child who requires more than one hour of observation or specialist treatment (e.g. fracture manipulation) will be transferred to Royal Stoke.
Rapid Access Clinics for children have returned to County Hospital. A rapid access clinic provides next-day appointments with specialist children's doctors. This means that when families visit their GP with an unwell baby, child or teenager, the GP can refer them to a specialist quickly and locally. These clinics are by appointment only and, for the time being, operate on a Monday to Friday basis.
The unique Children's Emergency Centre service was created in May 2015 as part of the three year integration of the Trust. However, the clinical model implemented as part of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Special Administrator recommendations has been deemed unviable at the current time following a number of safety concerns highlighted in a draft report by the West Midlands Quality Review Service (WMQRS). These relate to the lack of sufficient numbers of staff with very specific levels of paediatric and anaesthetic training, including resuscitation and life-support competencies.
Senior clinicians have now spoken with staff in detail, and carried out a thorough review of the training received as well as both competence and confidence levels around the issues highlighted. It has become apparent that concerns raised by WMQRS cannot be addressed in the short-term, which is why we have temporarily suspended the service. Nationally the standards for what is considered safe care in A&E paediatric care have risen over the last twelve months, and the WMQRS findings reflect this.
Liz Rix, Chief Nurse and Acting Deputy Chief Executive, said: "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. I want to thank my fellow clinical colleagues for reviewing the situation and for their advice, which has led to us taking this difficult short term decision. This allows us the space to examine future options for safe children's services at County Hospital with input from our staff, regulators and partners."
Dr Ann Marie Morris, Clinical Director and Emergency Medicine Consultant, said: "I want to reassure parents that we have taken this decision in the best interests of children. Whilst it is regrettable that some children may have to travel further for care, our first priority has to be providing a safe clinical service. People view the Children's Emergency Centre as a safety net, but this is only the case when the right number of professionally trained experienced staff are in place at all times. This is not currently the case, and as we cannot resolve this in the short-term the only responsible course of action we can take is to suspend the service."
Local commissioners and Member of Parliament for Stafford Jeremy Lefroy MP have now been briefed and have asked the Trust to provide them with a detailed plan and timescale for next steps as a matter of urgency. This will be shared with the public and other stakeholders as soon as it is available.