Acrisis-hit Midland hospital could be forced into administration as it emerged that it faces financial meltdown.
Experts are to be called in to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to put it back on a viable footing, regulator Monitor has said. Firms offering financial advice, accountancy, administrative and legal services are being called in to recommend how the scandal-hit trust should run its services.
The experts will explore a number of options including hiving off services to private healthcare providers and they could even recommend that the trust is put into special administration.
Monitor said the move is aimed at protecting the health services for patients. The experts, who will bid for the roles through a competitive tender, will start work shortly and will deliver a report by spring next year.
Patients have been handed another blow with news that the nighttime closures of the A&E department will continue. Concerns over the availability of senior staff and whether a 24-hour service could be sustained were raised by the Mid Staffordshire Commissioning Board.
Mid Staffs, which runs both Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals, could become the second NHS trust to be put into special administration. South London Healthcare Trust was put under the charge of a special administrator in June for being on the brink of bankruptcy.
Mid Staffs, which has foundation trust status - a supposed marker of excellence in the NHS - is at the centre of an pounds 11 million public inquiry.
Robert Francis QC, chair of the inquiry into failings at the trust between 2005 and 2009 and the role of regulators, will deliver his findings to the Government in mid-October.
In 2009, a highly critical report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said appalling standards put patients at risk. Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the commission said. In February 2010, an independent inquiry into events at the trust found it had "routinely neglected patients".
Dr David Bennett, chair and interim chief executive of Monitor, said: "We have been working closely with Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to improve its performance. …