SAFE staff levels should be put before a controversial hospital reorganisation, an MP has said.
Paula Sherriff (Lab, Dewsbury and Mirfield) hit out as health chiefs lay the groundwork for looming cuts.
A&E at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield will be expanded to cope with an expected 28 per cent increase in patients.
The rise is likely to happen when A&E at Dewsbury District Hospital is downgraded.
Extra steps are being taken to account for what will happen if changes also go ahead at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Figures show A&E at Pinderfields is already struggling to cope with existing numbers of patients.
From January 1 2015 to February 25 this year there were 2,207 breaches of ambulance handover times.
This is when patients arriving by ambulance are not checked into A&E within 15 minutes due to a lack of beds or staff.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has recruited more than 300 staff since last November.
These include 120 nurses, 106 health care assistants and 60 student nurses who will be in place between now and October.
The Press asked for a net recruitment figure, ie how many staff had left similar posts over the same period.
But Mid Yorkshire, criticised for staff levels by the Care Quality Commission, was unable to respond.
Ms Sherriff said: “Staffing is of the upmost importance and should be put before any reconfiguration of hospital services.
“Unless the trust deals with the issue of getting the qualified staff required then no amount of reorganisation will make up for poor care.”
The health select committee member previously took up safe staff levels at the trust in parliament.
Changes at Mid Yorkshire were backed by the Government in 2013 and could come into effect as soon as September.
There are four types of emergency department, from Grade 1 A&E to Grade 4 NHS walk-in centres.
Dewsbury’s Grade 1 A&E is earmarked to become a Grade 3 minor injuries unit.
This is for broken bones, wounds and minor burns and scalds but not chest or stomach pain or drug overdoses.
Huddersfield Royal Infirmary could be demolished, and a replacement hospital would have resuscitation facilities only.
The move, which may not be in place until 2021, is still subject to public consultation.
Dr Sarah Robertshaw, head of clinical service emergency medicine at Mid Yorkshire, explained how the new system will work.
She said: “In our plans we have estimated that some patients who would currently come to Dewsbury Hospital by ambulance will in future go to Pinderfields Hospital or Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
“When our changes are first introduced at Dewsbury Hospital this will still be the case.
“Under the reconfiguration, the Emergency Department at Pinderfields will be increased in size.
“The Emergency Department at Dewsbury will be open 24/7 and will mainly treat people who bring themselves to the hospital.
“A small number of people with specific conditions will be taken by ambulance to Dewsbury.”
She added: “We are working closely together with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service to understand the impact of the changes that are proposed for Calderdale and Huddersfield after 2021.”