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Stop using Stafford Hospital as 'political football' says bishop

26 April 2013

by a staff reporter


Banded together: about 30,000 demonstrators rally in support of Stafford Hospital in Stafford town centre on Saturday

Banded together: about 30,000 demonstrators rally in support of Stafford Hospital in Stafford town centre on Saturday

THE Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Geoff Annas, has called on the Government to stop using the town's hospital as a "political football". The hospital had become a "byword for all that is wrong with the NHS", he told protesters.

Stafford Hospital has been placed into administration after a public inquiry found that it had provided "appalling" standards of care over a five-year period, up to 2009. Plans have been announced to downgrade the hospital, removing accident and emergency, acute, and maternity services.

More than 30,000 people turned out in support of the hospital at the weekend. Speaking at the march, Bishop Annas said: "We all know the terrible and tragic things that have happened in this hospital that were highlighted by the Francis report.

"Of course our sympathies go to all who believe that their relatives died unnecessarily. They are very much in our thoughts this afternoon. . . Having said that, this appalling situation was not the fault of the people of Stafford. So why should we be being penalised? . . .

"Rather than build on the excellent work that is done here, and invest in this hospital and make it into that centre of excellence that we want it to be, that we know it can be, it seems as if there are certain people who want to continue to make Stafford a byword for everything that is wrong with the NHS.

"I deplore the way that this fine town and county is being besmirched by those who constantly refer to what has happened here, even if reporting on problems in hospitals hundreds of miles away."

The BBC reported on Wednesday that Stafford Borough Council was instructing the hospital to make a formal complaint of misconduct to the Crown Prosecution Service, against the chairman and the chief executive of the hospital.

Nurses attack 'stupid' plan

The Royal College of Nursing has attacked a government plan that would require trainee nurses to work as health-care assistants for a year, branding it "stupid" at a time when nurses were already overstretched.

A survey found that 71 per cent of 2000 senior nurses said that they were not confident that staffing levels were always adequate.

The Prime Minister defended the proposal, however. He said that it was "absolutely vital" to get the quality of care right in hospitals.

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