CUTS that would affect the care of premature babies at Dewsbury District Hospital may be dangerous, nurses have warned.
The Press revealed in June that the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is in talks with staff over reducing the number of neonatal cots from 12 to eight at the Staincliffe site.
Some neonatal nursing posts would be lost while nursery nurses would be replaced with healthcare support workers.
Talks are ongoing, with the moves intended to create a single pool of neonatal staff for the whole trust.
But the proposals were branded “dangerous” and “unworkable” in a report written by the neonatal team themselves.
The document, which The Press has seen, highlights concerns about the use of healthcare support workers.
Currently neonatal nurses are helped by nursery nurses, who have the skills to step in if their colleagues are called away for an emergency.
Healthcare support workers would not have that level of training and would have to be supervised at all times by a neonatal nurse.
The report claims lives could be at risk if the condition of a baby under the watch of a healthcare support worker was to suddenly deteriorate.
It said: “... the reduction to eight cots at Dewsbury and the staffing with two nurses and a healthcare assistant is dangerous and unworkable.
“In the first six months of this year the unit had 43 days of intensive care activity and 44 high dependency days.
“Most of the intensive care babies were transferred to Pinderfields General Hospital or another regional unit.
“It is our experience that this is very time-consuming and demands the attention of two suitably qualified and experienced staff.
“The replacement by healthcare assistants of nursery nurses will harm the standard of care expected in the neonatal unit.”
Lynne Hall-Bentley, the trust’s associate director of operations, said the ratio of staff to babies would remain the same as now.
She added: “Patient care is always our priority. Delivering the best possible care for babies and their mothers is of the highest importance.
“We would stress that, at this stage of the process, the consultation is still ongoing and no formal decisions have been made.”
Government figures show Mid-Yorkshire had the third highest number of written complaints of any NHS trust in England.
They received 1,411 complaints in a year, a rate of 27 a week, more than two thirds of which were upheld.
Chief nurse Sally Napper insisted the figure is a tiny fraction of the number of patients they treat.
She added: “The trust has a robust and accessible complaints procedure to ensure concerns are fully addressed and the patient experience is improved.”