Pontefract A&E ‘a long way from reopening’

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Bosses at a troubled health trust have admitted they are “nowhere near” recruiting the specialist medics they urgently need to re-open Pontefract’s A&E department.

And at a meeting yesterday, (February 23) the board of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said they are now looking at adopting a new way of working that took FIVE years to implement at a hospital in the North East.

Members of the board were responding to a furious letter sent just hours before the meeting by local MPs Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett which demanded answers about the lack of action following the overnight closure of the A&E department. In it, the MPs said: “The lack of urgency displayed by the trust is simply incomprehensible. As local MPs, we are deeply concerned that the trust is dragging its feet instead of taking the urgent action required now.”

As reported in the YEP, the unit has been shut between 10pm and 8am since November 1 because of a shortage of doctors – prompting an angry backlash from the local community.

But speaking at yesterday’s meeting, medical director Prof Tim Hendra said: “We need [to recruit] six people to re-open that department and we are nowhere near getting six doctors to reopen it with the previous service model.”

Prof Hendra said the trust was now looking at a model adopted at Hexham Hospital which involves a large pool of skilled nurses and a small pool of GPs with specialist skills.

But when asked when this new model could see the A&E at Pontefract re-open, he said: “The fact is, it does take a long time to recruit doctors. Even if we advertised today, it would take time to recruit and we may not find the doctors with the skills as required.”

He added: “It took Hexham five years to get where they are.”

Pontefract North councillor Jack Kershaw hit out at the delay.

He said: “I’m stopped daily and asked what’s happening. There’s still a strong feeling that people are being betrayed and that this is being pushed into the long grass.”

Trust bosses pledged to develop a timescale for the possible reopening of the A&E and said they would update MPs about steps being taken at a meeting early next month.

But they insisted there had been no adverse incidents at the A&E since the closure.

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