Election 2015 England

Stafford hospital: Overnight A&E to return, say Tories

Stafford Hospital Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stafford Hospital was renamed County Hospital.

A&E services will be restored through the night in Stafford as soon as it is "clinically safe" if the Conservatives are elected, the party has promised.

Stafford Hospital, which was renamed County Hospital, was at the centre of a £6m public inquiry into care failings.

Overnight closures at the hospital began in 2011.

The Liberal Democrats said Westminster should not tell local areas how to run hospitals. UKIP said the timing of the pledge would leave a "bad taste".

Labour said the Conservatives were attempting to "pre-empt" their plans for the A&E at the hospital.

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, which ran the hospital, went into administration in April 2013. The hospital is now run by a new trust.

Campaigners from Support Stafford Hospital Group camped on fields opposite the hospital from July until January as a protest over the removal of services.

'High quality'

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt made a "commitment to the people of Stafford" on a visit to the town.

"I would only ever agree to something that is clinically safe - however, it is the ambition of a future Conservative government to bring back 24 hour A&E," he said.

Responding to Mr Hunt's comments, Phil Bennion, former Liberal Democrat MEP in Staffordshire, said: "We want healthcare that's high quality, local, and available to everyone who needs it.

"But we also don't believe that Westminster should tell local areas how to run their hospitals and wider healthcare provision - especially if the resources needed aren't made available."

A UKIP spokesman said: "The Tories have had years to sort this out, and then to make a promise not two weeks from election will taste very bad for the people of Staffordshire."

The Labour party accused Mr Hunt of making a "desperate dash to Stafford to pre-empt [the] release of Labour's fully costed, timetabled plan for restoration of services at Stafford Hospital".

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