DEWSBURY MP Paula Sherriff has launched another scathing attack on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after discovering that most local patients who call for an ambulance will no longer be sent to Dewsbury and District Hospital.
As the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust implemented its reorganisation of hospital services this week, Miss Sherriff highlighted changes to the ambulance admissions policy following the ‘downgrade’ of Dewsbury Hospital.
The Acute Hospital Reconfiguration (AHR) programme reached its final phase on Monday with the centralisation of services at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
The Labour MP received an anonymous ambulance service document, which indicated that the vast majority of medical conditions will see patients taken to the ‘nearest Emergency Department but not Dewsbury and District Hospital’.
The information sheet advised that patients calling an ambulance and requiring hospital could expect to be taken to Pinderfields, Huddersfield or Bradford - but not Dewsbury.
In her latest letter to Mr Hunt, Miss Sherriff wrote: “Only two months ago, in a letter to me you advised that around 70 per cent of patients attending the A&E would see no change in the service.
“I was shocked then to see that some 30 per cent of admissions were to be affected. So I am dismayed to receive this new evidence which indicates a far greater impact, with the vast majority of conditions listed instructing patients to be taken to ‘nearest ED (not DDH)’.
“At a time when I continue to hear increasingly from constituents who are experiencing long delays in receiving care, both in ambulance transfers away from Dewsbury Hospital and waits upon arrival at Pinderfields Hospital, this document makes stark reading.
“Indeed, it appears that the impact on ambulance admissions to Dewsbury A&E may have been grossly understated.”
Miss Sherriff continued in her letter to criticise Mr Hunt’s NHS reorganisation and funding shortages for cuts and closures to NHS services.
She also repeated an earlier invitation to the Health Secretary to visit Dewsbury Hospital and see for himself the impact funding cuts have had on local health services.
Last week, Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin also called for Mr Hunt to visit the constituency to answer her own concerns.
Changes to Dewsbury Hospital have included the creation of new frailty units, expanded space and opening hours for outpatient care, and the development of a Clinical Decision Unit - where patients are admitted for tests and initial treatment before being discharged or transferred to a ward.
Although the NHS Trust see this as improving patient care and improving services, Dewsbury’s A&E department has been downgraded with Pinderfields becoming the centralised A&E centre.
Miss Sherriff added: “I’m concerned that patients calling an ambulance will routinely be taken to hospitals other than Dewsbury.
“With these changes already showing a strain on services at Pinderfields Hospital, what can we expect should the planned downgrade of HRI go ahead?”
Dr Sarah Robertshaw, urgent care lead and accident and emergency consultant at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “As a Trust we want people to be treated quickly, in the right place and by the right specialist doctor.
“The changes we have made will do this because the most seriously ill patients will get faster access to specialist clinicians and the care they need.
“Anyone calling 999 today or in the future will get the same service they got last week. Patients in life-threatening situations receive treatment from the paramedic on arrival with ongoing care at the most appropriate site; this might be Dewsbury, Pinderfields or the nearest hospital that is able to meet their needs.
“This is better for our patients who are seriously ill and improves the likelihood of them making a good recovery.
“Dewsbury A&E will look after all patients who self-present and the addition of new services through our reconfiguration programme and £500,000 investment in Dewsbury A&E means we have increased capacity to look after more patients on the Dewsbury site.”