GPs to run A&E overnight as firms bid to run service

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

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THE accident and emergency department at Pontefract Hospital will reopen at night from September.

But health bosses have not guaranteed that the move will be permanent, as a review of services is carried out at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which also runs hospitals in Wakefield and Dewsbury.

A private company could run the A&E overnight when a sub-contracted team of GPs and nurses is brought in to staff it from 10pm-8am.

Its closure sparked a storm of controversy last November after the trust failed to recruit enough doctors to run the A&E.

Stephen Eames, Mid Yorkshire’s interim chief executive, said: “There remains a shortage of hospital emergency doctors so we are sub-contracting a team of GPs. These GPs have the skills needed in emergency medicine to support our existing team and for us to provide the same emergency service at Pontefract overnight as before.

“We have made it clear that we need a longer term solution to emergency care across all three of our hospital sites, in particular our 24-7 consultant-led A&E at Pontefract.

“We are looking at options for the future as part of our wider clinical services strategy and will continue to involve local people and our partners in these discussions.”

Mr Eames said Mid Yorkshire had received interest from eight organisations bidding to run the department.

Tendering out the service would cost no more than the expense of running the A&E before it was temporarily closed.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett welcomed the announcement.

He said: “Local MPs have been pressing hard for some time on this issue but in the end it has come down to people power.

“This is a victory both for the power of local people, who collected over 15,000 signatures for a petition to reopen the A&E, and the new management team, who engaged successfully with the local community after a passionate local meeting.”

Mid Yorkshire is also increasing the use of clinics and equipment at Pontefract. The trust said between 100 and 150 more outpatients a week were being treated there after 11 new clinics were opened. Theatres at Pontefract were also being used 19 per cent more than previously.