HEALTH bosses have asked North Kirklees’ two MPs to help clear up ‘misunderstandings’ over the future of Dewsbury Hospital.
The Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust this week sent an open letter to Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin and Dewsbury & Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff, asking them to make it clear to constituents that the accident and emergency department at Dewsbury is not closing.
Both Labour MPs have recently spoken in Parliament, demanding that the government stop the proposed changes planned for later this year.
The trust plans to focus serious emergency care at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
But on Tuesday health bosses took the unusual step of writing to both Ms Brabin and Miss Sherriff asking them to publicly clarify their recent statements.
The letter, signed by Jules Preston, chairman of the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are taking the unusual step of sending an open letter to you both as our local MPs in the hope it will help to clear up some of the misunderstanding in the communities you serve about the changes planned at Dewsbury Hospital.
“We are doing this because we recognise MPs who are elected to serve a community have a responsibility not only to reflect back to us what their constituents are saying to them but also to inform the public. We are therefore asking you to help us make it clear to local people there is not, and never has been, a plan to close the A&E department at Dewsbury: IT IS NOT CLOSING.”
The trust says that Dewsbury Hospital will continue to have an A&E department which will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which will be led by a consultant and will have senior specialist doctors working in it.
Consultants will be in the department during the day and during the early evening when A&E attendance is at its highest.
Currently, around 70 per cent who attend Dewsbury emergency department are treated without needing to be admitted to a hospital bed.
The trust says that these patients will still be treated in the same way.
However those who are seriously ill and require a stay in hospital will be taken to Pinderfields.
The letter continued: “All of this will be familiar to you as we have provided written information and discussed it when we have met.
“It is true Dewsbury Hospital is changing. These changes cannot easily be described in a single sentence but it is definitely not true to say Dewsbury A&E is closing.
“I hope you will help us to dispel any rumours suggesting it is.
“Your support will help ensure local people know Dewsbury Hospital will still have an emergency department which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This will help people make the right choice about where to go.”
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin denied she had ever said the A&E department at Dewsbury would be closing.
“Of course I am happy to help the trust clear up any misunderstandings about the changes in services but the primary responsibility to communicate the changes effectively is their own,” said Ms Brabin.
“I will continue to voice my opposition regarding the 30-40 per cent reduction of capacity at Dewsbury A&E as I feel this is the wrong decision and know my constituents who have talked to me in person and via email, agree.
“This is all in the context of the national NHS crisis, which is why I’ve raised local issues at the highest possible level, including to the Prime Minister.
“I have expressed my gratitude to chief executive Martin Barkley for his candour and honesty in our regular meetings and would once again like to place on record my complete admiration for all the front line staff working across the trust.”
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff echoed her fellow MPs thoughts.
She said: “I am keenly conscious of the need to accurately inform the public about changes to services and so I stand by my message to local people; they need to know that vital services will be lost following the department reconfiguration.
“My concern is that we’re set to lose 30-40 per cent of capacity at Dewsbury A&E and the most seriously ill patients will be transferred to the already overburdened Pinderfields Hospital as services are centralised there.
“As a local MP I regularly meet with bosses at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss these and other issues affecting Dewsbury Hospital.
“So whilst I welcome this further opportunity to highlight this issue, it’s a little odd to be told again of the reconfiguration plans in this way.”