NHS trust may face administration
Scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust could become the first foundation trust in the country to be put into administration.
Health regulators announced they are considering the move to "safeguard services" for local patients.
Last year, South London Healthcare NHS Trust became the first ever NHS trust to be put under the care of a special administrator after it started losing around £1.3 million a week. But Mid Staffs could be the first foundation trust - a supposed marker of excellence in the health service - to face the same fate.
The trust was at the centre of a public inquiry into the "disaster" at Stafford Hospital where hundreds of patients may have died needlessly after they were "routinely neglected". The Francis Report highlighted the "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people" between 2005 and 2009.
Meanwhile, campaigners have expressed their "disgust" that a senior manager, who was in charge of the regional health authority for part of the time that patients were being mistreated, has not been held to account.
Sir David Nicholson, who heads the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB), faced calls to quit following the publication of the Francis Report. But he has since been backed by the NHSCB board and the Prime Minister. Members of the campaign group Cure the NHS staged a protest at a public meeting of the NHSCB in Manchester. Protesters stormed out and one member of the public shouted "shameful" as the board said Sir David should stay in his role.
Monitor, the watchdog which regulates foundation trusts, said it was consulting the Health Secretary and key organisations about the prospective appointment of trust special administrators.
A Department of Health spokesman added: "Despite improvements, Mid Staffordshire is still facing serious financial challenges. This puts at risk its work on improving services for patients. It is important that valued local services will last and are able to continue providing high-quality treatment and advice for patients."
Monitor's announcement has triggered the resignation of two Mid Staffordshire Trust board members, while bosses pledged the delivery of patient care remained its priority.
In a statement Maggie Oldham, the Trust's deputy chief executive, said "as a result of the announcement by Monitor" non-executive directors of the trust Eleanor Chumley-Roberts and Dr Lynne Hulme, had resigned.