LETTERS: Our readers on Pontefract and Wakefield hospitals, academies and fundraising

The Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract. (P542D339)
The Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract. (P542D339)

Crisis is a word often over used when talking about the NHS, but when used in relation to describing the hospital trust responsible for Wakefield and Pontefract, it is always true.

Ever since the decision was taken years ago to downsize the local hospitals and reduce the bed capacity of both by more than 600 beds, the district has struggled from one desperate situation to another.

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

It was reported in the Express that patients were being left for hours in the corridors waiting for beds.

The trust blames the ageing population for blocking beds and causing the present crisis.

I do not profess to being an expert on healthcare, but losing so much of the bed capacity might just have something to do with it.

What really annoys me is that the trust has just spent thousands of pounds demolishing a perfectly good building next to Pontefract Hospital.

This would have been ideal for a convalescent ward to hold the so-called bed-blocking older patients, this would free up the main hospital wards to deal with emergency care.

I am sure that a team of care assistants, backed up by nurses from the hospital if required, could have staffed the unit.

This would have been a common sense solution to a serious problem, but as we all know common sense and the local hospital trust do not make good bedfellows.

We now have Paula Sherriff MP as self appointed guardian of our local healthcare.

Let’s hope she makes a better job of it than our Yvette did when she was the last gatekeeper.

S Crees

North Baileygate,



Sponsor me

I hope this is a letter with a different theme - I’m not going to complain about the latest roadworks or what the council is doing or not doing.

This is a letter of support to charities that we will all need at sometime or another through our life.

St James Cancer Hospital, Pontefract’s Prince of Wales Hospice, Knottingley hospice shop and St Andrew’s Church Ferrybridge.

Losing a loved one is never easy for those who are left behind. But the above charities need your support, they get used and how many of us give anything back?

So here’s your chance. On June 25 I will be attempting the challenge of Total Warrior at Bramham Park near Leeds, a 12k cross country run with various obstacles along the way. I would like you to sponsor me so the above charities can benefit from your hopefully generous donations.

Every person who sponsors £5 or more can attempt to guess my finish time, for the person or persons who are nearest I will give them £25 of my own money as a thank you.

I have to tell you I hate running but I love a challenge. I am in training and I will complete the course with my dear wife looking down on me.

This is your chance not only to give but also receive.

To contact me for sponsor sheets or to sponsor me email tom785@live.co.uk.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Tom Nightingale

Arncliffe Drive, Ferrybridge


Dementia carer study

Caring for someone with dementia can be a challenge unlike any other.

I know first-hand from looking after my father that, while it can be very rewarding, it’s also all-consuming. I was trying to give myself to everyone; my dad, my partner and my daughters and work and there weren’t enough hours in the day.

Alzheimer’s Society recently found that nine in 10 carers for people with dementia experience feelings of stress or anxiety several times a week.

Despite this, many carers find it difficult to take time out of their caring commitments to access help and support – and when they do, they face waiting times of more than a year.

An immediately accessible form of therapy could provide a much-needed solution.

Caring For Me and You is a research trial that will test tailored online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and support specifically designed to help carers of people with dementia find ways of coping with the pressures of their role. The research team needs any carers of people with dementia who have felt the emotional pressures of caring, and have access to a computer, to come forward and help test the effectiveness of these new online therapy packages. To check your suitability to take part in the study, sign up at www.caringformeandyou.org.uk

Arlene Phillips

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador


Proposals are not good

I strongly deprecate the government’s intention that all primary and secondary schools in England should have become academies by 2022.

At present roughly 60 per cent of secondary schools and one in seven primary schools have so converted. They operate by virtue of a contract between themselves and the Secretary of State for Education.

Only a national education commissioner and eight regional commissioners lie in between. Often schools are organised into chains, which can cross municipal boundaries.

Local education authorities, in the form of councils, have existed since the 1902 Education Act , and were preceded, under the 1870 Education Act, by elected school boards. The academy system therefore directly subverts a long established tradition of local democratic accountability.

Changing patterns of population mean that schools have to open, close and merge, and increase or decrease their intakes. How easily will this be achieved once LEAs have disappeared?

The government is offering £140 million to councils to fund the costs of the changeover. In a time of economic stress, how can this outlay be justified for such a disruptive policy?

In short, academies mix privatisation and centralisation. In seeking to complete a constitutional upheaval commenced by Labour and magnified by the coalition, is not the government contradicting its other proposals for devolution in England?

Keith Wells

Chairman of the Wakefield District branch of the UK

Independence Party


Battlefield pilgrimages

Each year the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry organises pilgrimages to the battle areas of the First World War.

The tours are in August and September, covering France and Belgium. Seats are still available.

This year we plan to visit the Somme Battlefields, the Ypres Salient, Arras, Vimy Ridge and Loos battlefield areas if requested. 
More than 100 years ago, on July 1, 1916, The Battle of the Somme began.

After the first day of fighting, the British Army casualties were in the vicinity of 57,000 - the highest casualty the British Army ever suffered. The battle of the Somme was over in mid November 1916.

The trips specialise in visiting specific cemeteries or memorials on the above mentioned battlefields, as and when they are requested.

An experienced battlefield guide will accompany every trip to commentate on the various battles and the many historic events that occurred in the areas we visit.

We can also assist people in the tracing of war graves from the First World War. 
The KOYLI battlefield pilgrimages was formed as a charitable hobby in 1990 by ex-servicemen who have many years of practical experience in conducting visits to the First World War battlefield areas of France and Flanders.

We are a not for profit organisation and we support the Royal British legion Poppy Appeal and other institutions. These trips are open to anyone who might be interested.

We welcome all enquiries, they should be made to John Battye, 32 Rhodes Street, Hightown, Castleford, West Yorkshire, Wf10 5LL or by calling 01977 734614. We ask for a medium sizes SAE for all postal replies.

John Battye

Rhodes Street,



Future will not be calm

What would UKIP do if Boris Johnson is elected the new Conservative party leader?

After the big hitters and financial backers re-join the Tories?

What will the political future hold for them? Will they be able to rely on the 3.8m voters that backed them in the 2015 General Election? There are the questions they will have to address when the cards are dealt to the.

The future may or may not be purple. But calm it will not be.

Michael Ashman

Willow Court, Smawthorne

Estate, Castleford


Brexit claims


The most ridiculous yet - that was my thought after reading a letter in the Pontefract and Castleford Express recently.

It claimed an EU referendum was irresponsible. Just imagine, the British voters having a say on whether or not to be ruled by Brussels bureaucrats. Then it said the EU would chop off all trading with Europe.

The penny then dropped, and I realised the writer was a Brexit supporter.

E Wilde

Aketon Drive, Castleford