A&E department could be downgraded

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Pontefract’s A&E department could be downgraded and emergency patients diverted to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

The future of the department is under review as NHS bosses seek to cut costs and make the best use of scarce resources.

The A&E at Pontefract could be turned into an urgent treatment centre to look after patients with less serious ailments.

NHS bosses said no decisions had been made yet.

Dr Phillip Earnshaw, clinical chair of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Demand for urgent care is increasing all the time. To respond to this, we are already making more GP services available in the evenings and at weekends.

“Currently, we are not making the best use of the scarce specialist staff or the resources that we have.”

The A&E is staffed by Mid Yorkshire doctors and nurses between 8am and 10pm. Overnight it is staffed by GPs and specialist nurses. The A&E costs £6.4m to run, of which £3m is spent on the overnight service.

A CCG report said “It is anticipated that the model of care that is currently provided at Pontefract will align more closely with the definition of an urgent treatment centre than a traditional A&E service.”

The CCG intends to have a new type of service in place by March 2018.