Unions claim Stafford hospital bosses are “playing with fire” after announcing the A&E department will not reopen at nights for a further five months.
The A&E has been closed overnight since December 2011 amid safety concerns over lack of staff. The Board of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (MSFT) decided that a number of requirements needed to be met before it could be re-opened.
After a meeting in April the board said that the majority of these had been met and, if progress was continued, re-opening could take place in June.
Now, following another meeting, the Mid Staffordshire Commissioning Board, which is chaired by the Cannock and Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Groups, revealed there were clinical doubts about sustaining these improvements, particularly in light of the number of newly-appointed A&E staff.
A spokesman said: “As a result of these discussions it was jointly agreed, that we would work towards a reopening in October 2012, subject to sustaining the significant improvements already made. This opening date will enable the improvements to become embedded and to fully integrate the newly appointed A&E staff into the department.”
Ray Salmon, Unison regional organiser, said: “Fortunately, so far luck has prevailed and there has not been a serious incident.
"However, extending the overnight closure is playing with fire and the longer A&E remains closed, the greater the risk of a serious incident will occur.’’