THE district’s MPs have criticised hospital chiefs for deciding to close an emergency care service at Dewsbury Hospital.
Bosses at the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust announced the Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit would be closing until further notice due to staff shortages.
The same unit was closed last winter when the NHS faced a ‘national crisis’ in which hospitals struggled to cope with demands over the winter period.
The unit, which offers patients quick access to diagnostic tests, consultants and specialist staff if they are in need of same-day emergency treatment, was re-opened for about four months following its closure but shut again in July due to ‘workforce constraints’.
Trust bosses say there are still not enough staff to re-open it and it will remained mothballed until more workers can be found.
Ambulatory emergency care is not the same as the accident and emergency department. Dewsbury’s A&E and children’s emergency care unit remain open.
Patients needing ambulatory emergency care will instead be transferred to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
Dewsbury MP and shadow health minister Paula Sherriff said: “I’m greatly concerned that yet again we are seeing staffing shortages negatively impacting the services being offered at Dewsbury District Hospital.
“I have written to the Trust chief executive Martin Blakeley to raise my strong concerns with the proposals to officially close ambulatory emergency care at Dewsbury hospital over winter.
“Last year saw our NHS facing the worst winter crisis on record, with local patients telling of sleeping on the floor, on trollies and enduring unacceptably long waits for treatment.
“Dewsbury has already seen the incremental downgrade of A&E and maternity services over the last few years.
“Whilst the national staffing crisis is well-documented, care that is local and accessible to patients is key and I have deep concerns with the erosion of local services.”
Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin added: “It’s deeply concerning to discover that, after one of the most devastating winters on record for our NHS, this complacent Tory government have failed to learn the lessons and are failing to recruit the doctors we so desperately need.
“This failure will have a direct impact on the people of Batley & Spen, those who have already suffered enough due to downgrades, staff shortages and intermittent closures over the last few years.”
Trudie Davies, chief operating officer at the Mid Yorkshire Trust, said: “Ambulatory care services are designed for patients who require the input of specialist hospital consultants but do not require an admission into a bed.
“We will continually evaluate this way of working and will conduct a joint impact assessment with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at the end of January to agree a longer-term plan for the Ambulatory Emergency Care facilities which provides the best possible experience for our patients.”