The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has recommended in their report into Children's Emergency Services at County Hospital that a return to a Children's Emergency Centre (CEC) model of service would be unsafe and unsustainable. UHNM agrees with the findings of the report and the CEC will remain suspended. The interim Minor Injuries Unit for under-16s will continue at the hospital until the report's recommendations can be implemented.
The report was developed following an independent review by the RCPCH, including public engagement with over 350 staff, carers, stakeholders and residents, and meetings with local patient and public representatives.
One of the key areas outlined in the report is that even though the Minor Injuries Unit for under-16s at County Hospital has been operational since October 2016, 46% of patients are still attending with minor illnesses, rather than seeing their GP or using Children's Services at Royal Stoke University Hospital. There remains a small but significant risk that if the unit continues 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.
In response to this, the Trust will now be working with Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group regarding the recommendation to implement a GP front of house service in the Accident and Emergency Department at County Hospital.
The report specifically highlights that despite a clear demand for a local service at County Hospital, the CEC model of service would be unsafe and unsustainable as not all staff have the ability to maintain clinical competence, nor the confidence to safely manage all attendees due to the relatively small numbers of patients using the service.
Dr John Oxtoby, Acting Medical Director, said: "The Trust welcomes the findings outlined in the summary RCPCH report as this provides greater clarity for our staff and patients. The report recognises that we were correct to suspend Children's Emergency Centre service at County Hospital in August 2016 following the initial West Midlands Quality Review Service (WMQRS) report. We now have a clear action plan to follow to ensure that we deliver safe children's services at County Hospital."
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."
Click here to read the RCPCH Summary Report