A weekly newspaper has stepped up its fight to save services at a scandal-hit hospital where hundreds of avoidable deaths are thought to have occurred.
Stafford Hospital is facing being stripped of a number of services including intensive care, maternity and A&E following a damning independent report which described its standard of care as “truly dreadful.”
But the Staffordshire Newsletter has thrown itself into a fight to save services at the hospital, publishing an eight-page supplement ahead of a huge march in the town on Saturday.
It claims the hospital, where up to 1,200 patient deaths are thought to have occurred as a result of the “appalling” quality of care, is being made a scapegoat for wider problems in the NHS.
Editor Killoran Wills said: “This is a hugely important issue for people in Stafford – but Saturday was just the beginning. There is a long way to go to safeguard the services that we need in Stafford.”
During the march, reporter Robin Scott posted pictures and tweets throughout the afternoon, assisted by Rosamond Evans who was on a work experience placement, while digital assistant Leah Cassidy produced a six minute video of the march and photographer Chantale Lemaitre took 600 pictures on the day.
The 1,782-page report by Robert Francis QC found that patients were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases, given the wrong medication or sent home with life-threatening conditions.
However in its editorial, the paper claims the hospital was a “convenient target” for wider problems in health care.
It said: “Another week, another report and another Stafford Hospital headline… well it’s about time the long-playing record stopped. Enough is enough.
“This week the government announced sweeping reforms of the NHS. Yes they were prompted by the inquiry into unforgiveable treatment meted out at Stafford Hospital, but if ours was the only hospital at fault why should it need government legislation to put things right?
“Clearly the whole of the NHS has been found wanting and yet the fingers still seem to point exclusively at Stafford. Why? Because we are an easy and convenient target to blame for the ills of the NHS.
“Well, we will not be the scapegoat for the whole country to hide behind any more. Our town hospital has faced up to facts, put its house in order and deserves huge credit for what it has achieved in the full glare of national publicity. It is the turn of others to play catch up.”