THOUSANDS more emergency patients could be treated at Pinderfields Hospital under plans to make it the district’s only full A&E department.
Health bosses say a plan to shift critically-ill and injured patients from Dewsbury and Pontefract to Pinderfields is the only viable option in a radical shake-up of NHS services.
Under the scheme, Dewsbury and Pontefract Hospitals would have units providing urgent care for minor injuries while Pinderfields would keep its consultant-led A&E.
NHS bosses have been working to secure the long-term future of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which is expected to be £26m in debt at the end of the financial year.
They will consider whether to put the plan out to formal consultation at a meeting on Thursday.
Mike Potts, chief executive of NHS Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, said: “The Board will be deciding whether the preferred option put forward by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals should be put forward for public consultation.
“If this is agreed, then the consultation would start in March and last for a minimum of 12 weeks.”
Bosses at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust have recommended the plan, which is the more radical of two options drawn up for the district’s hospitals.
Emergency departments at Dewsbury and Pontefract would be staffed by doctors and nurse practitioners, with consultants on call.
All three sites would still treat urgent conditions which can be treated without patients having to stay in hospital.
The alternative plan would have seen Dewsbury keep its consultant-led A&E.
Mr Potts said: “Patients and local people have been involved in developing and assessing the two options that were announced in the summer.
“Since then, a wide variety of meetings have taken place with local people and community groups to discuss the need for change and the two options to understand any concerns and consider possible solutions.”
Mr Potts said more work would have to be done if the recommended plan was not accepted.
He added: “However, to date no viable alternatives have been identified or put forward.”
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said a single A&E could not cope with patients from all over the Wakefield district and Dewsbury because the population was so spread out.
He said: “I am coming to my 17th year as an MP and the hospital authorities have always promised us a proper A&E at both sides of the district.
“Pinderfields is too tightly packed together. It could be the straw which breaks the camel’s back.
“This has been proven time and time again with waiting lists that have been unacceptably long and cancelled operations.”
Members of the public are invited to Thursday’s meeting at 10am at Ossett Town Hall.
More information about the changes is available online at www.meetingthechallenge.co.uk