Controversial shake-up at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust moves a step closer

Pinderfields Hospital general view
Pinderfields Hospital general view

Health bosses decided to press ahead with a radical reorganisation of hospital services yesterday - but the plans face criticism from a council watchdog.

NHS bosses want to centralise accident and emergency services, reduce hospital stays and cut the number of beds at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.

Dewsbury and District Hospitals’s A&E department would be downgraded to an urgent care centre treating minor ailments, with critically-ill and injured patients being transferred to Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital.

Dewsbury would also lose its consultant-led maternity unit as some births are also transferred to Pinderfields under the scheme.

Hospital bosses voted to proceed with the plans at a meeting at Ossett Town Hall yesterday.

But at its meeting on Monday, the Joint Wakefield and Kirklees health scrutiny committee finalised a report which voices a string of criticisms of the plans.

The committee was not convinced that plans to treat more patients closer to home to cut the need for hospital beds would work.

Committee chairwoman Betty Rhodes told the meeting: “We are concerned that the proposals in relation to community based health care are not underpinned by any detailed plans and there is no evidence of resources being identified.”

The committee was also concerned that some patients would have longer to travel for treatment, and that hospitals might struggle to treat rising numbers of patients turning up at A&E.

NHS bosses held a public consultation on the proposals which included sending information out to households in Wakefield and North Kirklees.

But the committee was also critical about gaps in the consultation process, with some households not included.

Coun Rhodes said: “The committee’s view is they attempted to follow best practice, but in some parts of the district this didn’t happen and some members of the public didn’t have the opportunity to read the consultation material and respond to it.”

NHS bosses have 28 days to respond to the committee’s report, which has not yet been made public. The committee could then decide to refer the matter to Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for health.

At yesterday’s meeting Jo Webster, chief officer of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said any recommendations from the scrutiny committee would be taken on board.

She added: “We will respond to the overview and scrutiny report in the time allocated by them and will do in the next 28 days.”

The original cost of the reorganisation at Mid Yorkshire was £38.3m, but that has now been reduced to an estimated £22.7m.

Plans for a new 50-bed unit at Pinderfields Hospital to accommodate extra patients after services are centralised have also been scrapped.

Instead, the new beds will be provided in the existing hospital site after bosses at Mid Yorkshire found that would be cheaper.

A report to yesterday’s meeting said Mid Yorkshire, which has faced as string of financial problems in recent years, was originally forecasting a £10.5m financial deficit once the reorganisation has been implemented in 2016/7.

But the trust now estimates it will have a £4.6m surplus at that time.