Councillors question Dewsbury Hospital’s long-term future – IN-DEPTH COVERAGE

DEWSBURY District Hospital’s long-term future was questioned in a report by councillors on Monday.

The document was considered at a joint health scrutiny committee of Kirklees and Wakefield councils.

Held at County Hall in Wakefield, the meeting concerned plans to reduce services at Dewsbury, including A&E and maternity.

The report accused the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust of hiding key information about their motives.

Unison officials told councillors theay believe the plans are being driven by the trust’s financial struggles.

Councillors wrote: “This is a view shared by others and one which the trust has failed to address sufficiently in the consultation...

“This was not helped by the refusal of the trust to publicly release a report by Ernst and Young which considered the financial viability of the trust...”

Councillors added the dossier is “perceived to have unduly influenced the outcome of the clinical services strategy.

“Non-disclosure is premised on the basis of commercial confidentiality, but this argument has lost its shield given the level of public mistrust…”

Councillors noted Mid-Yorkshire later offered to allow them access to the Ernst and Young assessment in private.

The trust’s financial position could have an effect on Dewsbury, given the contracts for new hospitals in Wakefield and Pinderfields.

Councillors wrote: “It is an inconvenient truth that any further reductions in services will have to come from Dewsbury.

“It is the only substantial unit that is not encumbered by a hefty Private Finance Initiative unitary charge.

“While these issues go unresolved the trust is open to the charge that Dewsbury will become unsustainable in the longer term.”

Health bosses - DDH A&E has to be reduced

A KNOCK-ON effect of rising admissions across the trust means the A&E department at Dewsbury District Hospital has to be reduced, health bosses claimed.

The Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust saw 203,912 A&E patients last year, of whom nearly a quarter were admitted.

It was a nine per cent rise on 2010-11, the highest growth in the north of England. This year’s figures are up another 10 per cent.

The figures were in a report considered by a joint health scrutiny committee of Kirklees and Wakefield councils on Monday.

It noted doctors are overwhelmed, resulting in delays to patients being seen, which could put them at risk.

Mid-Yorkshire wants to ease that by focusing critical A&E care at Pinderfields in Wakefield.

Dewsbury will continue to handle most of the patients it currently sees, but work would be done to get admissions down.

This partly involves extra walk-in and out-of-hours appointments with GPs and a “GP First” campaign.

Dewsbury’s minor injuries unit would be integrated with walk-in and health centres across the area and a proposed children’s assessment unit.

Councillors were scathing and wrote: “... the committee expressed concerns about the lack of detail regarding implementation or finance.”

Monday’s hearing was adjourned until October 9 after Mid-Yorkshire supplied new details of how their plans would work.

‘Maternity services need to be centralised’

HEALTH bosses do not have enough staff for two consultant-led maternity units, councillors have been told.

Dewsbury District Hospital could be left with a midwife-led service under plans put forward by the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Figures given to a joint health scrutiny committee of Kirklees and Wakefield councils on Monday highlighted the use of locum doctors.

In 2010 168 weekend night shifts and 222 weekday nightshifts at Dewsbury and Pinderfields were staffed by locums.

Mid-Yorkshire believes having a single large unit at Pinderfields will reduce the need for locums, who cost more than full-time staff.

Councillors heard North Kirklees has a higher infant mortality rate and more pregnancy complications.

They concluded: “... the potential loss of any form of maternity provision at Dewsbury will exacerbate health inequalities...

“There is no doubt the trust faces a challenge in medically staffing two consultant-led obstetric units.

“The proposals will go some way to ease the pressures, but it is difficult to see how the proposals will improve access and choice.”

Councillors also heard similar schemes elsewhere show the number of mums choosing a midwife-led unit falls over time.

They concluded: “... the birth target at Dewsbury is ambitious and may bring into question the sustainability and affordability of that unit going forward.”

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