Medics’ fears on patient safety over shake-up at West Yorks hospitals

Pinderfields Hospital
Pinderfields Hospital
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doctors at a West Yorkshire hospitals trust will today discuss their fears about risks to patient safety linked to a major shake-up of care.

A special meeting of the Senior Medical Staff Committee (SMSC) at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been called following concerns from senior medics.

Management have been barred from the meeting according to a letter, seen by the Yorkshire Evening Post, which says that staff are reluctant to raise issues due to fears of “becoming scapegoats”.

The letter, from committee chair Dean Okereke, says: “To ensure that colleagues feel confident to raise concerns without fear of reprisal, this extraordinary SMSC meeting will be open only to clinicians and not to management.”

A controversial reconfiguration of hospital services will see emergency patients and higher-risk pregnant women no longer being seen at Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Dewsbury and Pontefract Hospitals would become centres for planned care, but this is dependent on the development of seven-day community services.

The doctors’ letter says that “many senior clinicians have expressed concerns” about the plans, especially a reduction in beds linked to the development of services in the community.

It added that concerns included safety fears around day care facilities, “significant” pressures on beds at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield and the impact on A&E.

However a joint statement to the YEP from Mr Okereke, a consultant in emergency medicine, and Dr Richard Jenkins, trust medical director and consultant physician, says: “Every month we have a meeting of senior medical staff and trust management which provides a forum for two-way communication and for issues to be explored. The forthcoming meeting is part of that process and will focus on how we can best deliver the approved reconfiguration plans and also how we can work together to further improve safety.”

They said the plans were partially dependent on the changes to community services to reduce demand on hospitals, which are being developed by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Mr Okereke and Dr Jenkins added that the NHS needed to implement a “continuous improvement approach to safety” and senior medical staff were essential to that effort.