Plea to halt changes to A&E units at hospitals

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A HOSPITAL trust’s plans to centralise three hospitals’ acute accident and emergency services at just one site will be “dangerous”, claims a West Yorkshire MP.

Building work is set to start on a new unit to free up space for more than 80 extra inpatient beds for acute and emergency patients at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.

Campaigners lost their fight last July against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s plans to downgrade A&E services at its hospitals in Pontefract and Dewsbury.

A&E units at Dewsbury and Pontefract will remain open, but all seriously ill and complex patients will instead be treated at Pinderfields.

Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood said: “I have always thought what the trust is doing is creating a dangerous situation at both Dewsbury and Pinderfields because Pinderfields can’t cope with the amount of A&E patients they have got now.”

Paula Sheriff, of pressure group Save Dewsbury Hospital, claimed ambulances are already being diverted from Pinderfields to Dewsbury, adding: “They need to halt these proposals immediately until we see firm evidence that these ambulance diverts are stopped because its just going to be an absolute disaster.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “Too few people are still being treated at Pontefract. Mid Yorkshire Trust still need to do much more to use the facilities we’ve got locally bring the routine services back that we were promised when the new hospital was built.”

Trust chiefs say construction work is set to start on a new clinical support unit at Pinderfields to house a state-of-the-art eye clinic and office accommodation.

The unit is due to open in spring 2015.

Caroline Griffiths, Director of Planning and Partnerships at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “It is planned that all urgent medical and surgical care and all complex surgery will be carried out at Pinderfields by 2017, with an extra 88 beds created at Pinderfields Hospital to accommodate additional urgent and emergency care. This is part of a bigger programme of transformation across the local health system which will lead to more care being available close to people’s homes reducing the need for treatment in hospital.

“We strongly believe that the proposals under the clinical services strategy and Meeting the Challenge will improve healthcare for people in Wakefield and North Kirklees. The strategy has been developed to ensure we can provide high quality, safe and sustainable services for our patients and will lead to more care being available close to people’s homes.

“Our plans are also supported by the Secretary of State, who approved plans to reconfigure health services across Mid Yorkshire in March, the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT) and the Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Senate.

“Dewsbury and District Hospital is central to our plans for the future delivery of healthcare. We plan to invest £20 million into the site, which will, by 2017, provide new medical and surgical wards, upgraded theatres, a new midwife-led unit, increased outpatient capacity, a new pathology lab and new office and medical education facilities.

“If the changes are implemented, more care at Dewsbury would be provided as outpatient care and short stay surgery which means fewer beds would be needed. However, the number of people treated at Dewsbury will rise by about 18,000 attendances and procedures by 2017. The range of surgical specialties available will also increase, and, because more care will be provided as short stay surgery and outpatient care, fewer beds will be needed.”

Jo Webster, Chief Officer of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We have worked with Mid Yorkshire to put in place plans to extend the range and opening times of services in the community in advance of the planned bed reductions. There is a process in place to review these plans at critical points as hospital changes are due to take place and we are confident this will ensure people have access to safe, high quality care where and when they need it, in line with the recommendations of the National Clinical Advisory Team.”

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