Stafford County Hospital maternity move backed
Maternity services in Stafford are to be downgraded this month after plans were approved by the hospital trust.
All consultant-led maternity will move to the Royal Stoke University Hospital by 19 January, subject to approval by the NHS Trust Development Authority .
Gynaecology, acute surgery and trauma are all expected to follow over the next two months.
The plans have faced strong criticism from campaigners who said patients' safety could be put at risk.
The Support Stafford Hospital group highlighted the extra journey times and suggested the Royal Stoke Hospital would struggle to cope with the extra demand.
Mark Hackett, chief executive of the University Hospital North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), said: "There is no doubt in my mind that it would be a profound mistake to delay the transfer of these services.
"The risks would be greater if we did not make these changes."
He said the trust was also increasing capacity at both the Royal Stoke and Stafford's County Hospital.
Mr Hackett said extra beds in Stoke were also expected to ease some of the pressures faced by its A&E department, which declared a major incident earlier this week.
UHNM took on the County Hospital in October, after the previous hospital trust was declared clinically and financially unviable.
Formerly known as Stafford Hospital, it was at the centre of a major public inquiry into care failings from 2005 to 2008.