PLANS to bring forward the downgrade of A&E at Dewsbury District Hospital have been ditched.

Its controversial transformation into a minor injuries unit is now set to go ahead in April next year.

Health chiefs wanted to bring forward the plan to September this year amid staff shortages.

But a new timetable was revealed at a Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust board meeting earlier this month.

Interim chief executive Martin Barkley is said to have ordered the change after a review.

MP Jo Cox (Lab, Batley and Spen) said: “The new chief executive of the trust has taken the decision to look again at the timetable for these significant changes to services at our hospital.

“In my regular meetings with the Trust, I have asked that the timetables for all these changes be scrutinised carefully and continually in order that there is minimal disruption in the services being offered.”

Mrs Cox added: “Underlying these issues are the very serious staffing problems at the Trust, which are having a severe impact on service delivery.

“I have been pushing them to find a resolution to these issues and I will continue to do so.”

The Trust hired hundreds of nurses after being criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over staffing levels.

But they were unable to give a net figure – taking into account staff who have left – since the recruitment drive began last year.

MP Paula Sherriff (Lab, Dewsbury and Mirfield) said: “Staffing levels need to be the priority – it is absolutely vital that patient safety is put first.

“That is why I am keeping up the pressure on the Government to ensure everything is done to tackle this very grave issue.”

Other parts of service reorganisation are going ahead either on time or ahead of schedule.

Changes to the maternity and children’s units are still set to take place in September.

Surgical reform, in which Dewsbury gains outpatient specialisms, is ahead of schedule and could come into force later this year.

A public meeting about all the hospital changes and featuring both MPs is likely to be held next month.

The overall effect will centralise emergency care for the most seriously ill at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, where A&E is to be exanded in a bid to cope.

But about 70 per cent of patients who currently attend A&E in Dewsbury will still be seen at the Staincliffe site.

Kevin Oxley, Mid Yorkshire’s director of operations, said the timetable for change is not fixed.

He added: “We continue to implement the proposals that were agreed following public consultation in 2014.

“In September we will introduce changes to the children’s assessment unit and welcome the opening of a new birthing centre.

“Changes to services for people who need an operation may also happen later this year.

“We are working to a ‘proposed’ timetable only and therefore the Trust, working with commissioners, may decide to bring forward or delay parts of the programme.

“Ensuring changes can be delivered safely and there is the right staff cover are our most important concern.”


Reports claim that A&E at Dewsbury will close

REPORTS have surfaced claiming that the A&E department at Dewsbury District Hospital will close entirely, suggesting no patients will be treated there.

In June last year the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust categorically told The Press this is not true.

From April 2017, A&E, one of four types of emergency care, will become a minor injuries unit which will still see most patients who currently attend. Broken bones, sprains and strains and wound infections are some of the areas which can be treated.

Those with chest pain, breathing difficulties or other problems could be transferred elsewhere, depending on severity.

Director of corporate planning and partnerships Caroline Griffiths set out in June last year how the new system will work. She said: “Our plans have always been to keep A&E services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Dewsbury District Hospital. Patients can continue to attend this hospital as needed and will be seen and treated here.

“We will have full resuscitation facilities available to support anyone who is seriously ill.”

Dewsbury will have resident consultants working during core hours, with an on-call service outside these times.

She said: “Patients who need to be admitted for further treatment will be transferred to the most appropriate care setting, which could be Pinderfields. Anyone who is critically ill or injured will be taken directly by ambulance to Pinderfields or the nearest hospital with specialist services.”

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