LETTERS - More hospital beds needed

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I HAVE read your front page article (May 27) on the size of hospitals and Julia Squires’ letter as reported in the paper on June 3.

I have also read letters in the Pontefract and Castleford Express by Mr Night and Mr Williams.

There is no doubt that the hospitals are too small to meet the needs of the people of Wakefield and Pontefract.

I have been working towards increasing bed capacity of our local area since 2001.

All I have to show for my efforts is a saga which reveals incompetence from the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which is in charge of overseeing the planning for the future of our NHS locally.

Now the blame-game is being played and as always the wrong people are in the firing line.

It is my wish to report accurately on who is in error, not incriminate others, but to alleviate pressure on those who have had nothing to do with this burgeoning disaster.

In 2001 I attended and was vocal in an activity and capacity focus group.

It was decided there that the SHA would have a legal requirement to produce a comprehensive study on bed requirements.

“If the capacity was found to be inadequate a separate business case for additional beds was to be made.” (The Outline Business Case; chapter 5, article 5.9.7).

This did not happen.

I then wrote to the chief executive of the SHA and requested that they fulfil this obligation, not once but twice.

The first was ignored and the second promised that the issue would be tackled at the Wakefield and North Kirklees Partnership Board.

This also did not happen.

The final business case was submitted in the year 2006 without any review taking place.

It is only in the last two years that a review was carried out by Dr Goodwin.

The review, which returned a verdict that there were enough elective beds, completely missed the point.

Eighty five per cent of all hospital work comes from unplanned emergency treatment. It is this area that the increased demand comes from, and this was known to the SHA throughout the planning process.

The only people who have responded well to these dire circumstance are the PCT, which has created 100 intermediate care beds and 50 failsafe beds, which are now being managed by Mid Yorkshire.

I think now is the time to double up our efforts to increase the capacity further before the coming winter.

Dr Narendra Mathur

Patient Safety Champion for Yorkshire and Humber

Millenthorpe Lane

Wakefield