Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has backed calls to dissolve the trust that runs the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital.
Mr Hunt said Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust would be scrapped and, while its two hospitals would remain open, many services would move to other hospitals.
The trust has been in administration since April when services were deemed “unsustainable” by watchdog Monitor.
However, campaigners who oppose the move said they may challenge the decision in the courts.
Under the plans, Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals would be “operated by other local providers”.
Mr Hunt said the changes would “secure the safe and high-quality services that the people of Stafford deserve having endured years of uncertainty and failures in care”.
He added: “I want Stafford to be a proper district hospital that continues to meet the needs of patients nearby, including for emergency care and births.”
He said he wanted to dissolve the trust “as soon as possible” to stabilise local health services.
‘A Toxic Name’
Stafford could still retain consultant-led maternity services after Mr Hunt agreed to NHS England carrying out a review into the issue.
The original plan from administrators had been for maternity services to close but this was later amended to allow for the creation of a midwife-led unit.
Mr Hunt has now agreed to review that decision to see whether consultant-led services – needed for more difficult births – should be retained.
The trust was criticised in February 2013 in a public inquiry headed by Robert Francis QC for causing the “suffering of hundreds of people” under its care between 2005 and 2008.
The inquiry criticised the cost-cutting and target-chasing culture that had developed at the trust.
Receptionists were left to decide which patients to treat, inexperienced doctors were put in charge of critically ill patients and nurses were not trained how to use vital equipment.
Cases have also been documented of patients left crying out for help because they did not get pain relief and food and drinks being left out of reach.
Data shows there were between 400 and 1,200 more deaths than would have been expected between 2005 and 2008, although it is impossible to say all of these patients would have survived if they had received better treatment.
The inquiry made 290 recommendations aimed at tackling the wider cultural problems in the NHS.
The full report of the inquiry, published February 2013, makes tragic and sobering reading. It is available to read, in full, in four sections:
The downloads are provided in the form of PDF files, by the inquiry website.
This is the report of the second public inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, into catastrophic failures of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The report of the first inquiry was published on 24 February, 2010.