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Anger remains despite failing hospital revamp.

Byline: ALISON DAYANI

Revamped emergency services at shamed Stafford Hospital have come into force after it was at the centre of a highly-critical report claiming at least 400 people died unnecessarily.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust managers have launched a new model to run Stafford A& E following damning inquiries revealing severe staff shortages and secretaries carrying out initial assessments on patients.

But campaigners Cure The NHS remain angry there is to be no independent public inquiry and travelled down to Whitehall yesterday to hand over a petition and at least 140 case notes featuring failings at the hospital.

Under the emergency changes, two new A& E consultants and four new acute medicine consultants have been added to the department to speed up treatment.

A new target of seeing non-surgical patients referred to hospital from their GPs in one hour, instead of 24 hours carried out in most NHS hospitals, has also been set to drive forward improvements.

Consultant Paul Woodmansey, who has worked at Stafford Hospital for nearly 14 years and is leading the changes, said: "Essentially, as medical emergency patients come in between 9am and 8pm, our target would be that they are seen by a consultant within an hour.

"We won't always be able to meet this, but we will try."

Mr Woodmansey - who is also involved with a group looking at care in the A& E and Emergency Assessment Unit, specifically concentrating on improving the quality of care - added: "The hospital has very many very good doctors, nurses and technicians who spend their days trying to give very good care, and A& E already works so much better than it used to.

"We have reduced MRSA by half and C.Diff by a third over the last year."

The changes are part of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust's Transformation Programme and build on the many improvements within Stafford Hospital's A& E department.

Other improvements include hiring four new heart specialist nurses as the Cardiac Assessment Team to assist staff to deal with patients five days a week.

Julie Bailey, appalled by her mother Isabella's treatment at Stafford Hospital before she died and who went on to cre-atCure The NHS campaign group, hoped the Department of Health would be moved by individual cases, saying: "George Alberti, who carried out a review into the hospital, has told us that the hospital has improved but there is still a 20 per cent shortage of staff - staggering after all this time and whilst under the spotlight. I find it incredible that they are not being forced to take the necessary action."

A Healthcare Commission investigation showed that the Trust made drastic cost-cutting moves in order to meet financial and Foundation status targets leading to appalling levels of care.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has insisted an independent review is still necessary as reports have made no assessment of the Government's role in creating systems that caused failings.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 2, 2009
Words:487
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