WATCHDOGS have referred plans for controversial changes to hospitals in Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract, to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
At yesterday’s meeting of Wakefield and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, members decided they were not convinced changes planned by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust would benefit patients.
The shake-up would see accident and emergency centralised at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, along with intensive and high dependency care.
Dewsbury District Hospital would house only a midwifery-led maternity unit, so it would not deal with complex births, and its A&E department would be downgraded.
Health managers say the plans – given the go-ahead in July – would bring £10m in recurrent savings if they can reduce the number of beds by 200, and leaving services as they are is not an option.
However, the scrutiny committee has been critical, saying the results of a consultation were “inconclusive” - a claim which was denied by NHS heads.
They also said financial implications were “unresolved”, saying there would £4.6m shortfall in the hospital trust’s budget. Managers said that was not the case and they had developed a plan which would achieve a surplus of that amount by 2017.
Coun Betty Rhodes, Chair of Wakefield and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “Having carefully considered the outcome of the consultation, the case for changes and the specific proposals, the committee believes there still remains sufficient doubt to provide the necessary assurance and confidence that the proposals are in the best interests of the local population, and as a result has agreed to seek an independent assessment and review of the proposals via a referral to the Secretary of State for Health.”