Your Letters

A worrying day for pregnant women

Letter of the Week: Jennifer Devlin, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

Friday December 11 was, for women who were simply wanting to give birth in their local hospital in Dewsbury, a frustrating and worrying day.

Mothers at Dewsbury Hospital’s Maternity Unit were finding more and more expectant women arriving from Pinderfields until, according to my sources, “someone senior” stepped in and said enough was enough and no more referrals from Pinderfields were to be accepted.

I decided to make enquiries and here is the official response from Jules Preston, the chairman of the Trust.

It is such an important issue that I report his response here in full.  He says:

“It was an exceptionally busy day that resulted in a cross-site (whole Trust) closure – an event that is extremely rare and has only occurred once in the last 12 months. However it would be wrong to suggest that the reason was purely as a result of Pinderfields being full.”

He continues: “I think that there were several issues at play:

“1. Obviously we have a robust escalation policy to ensure that women are cared for safely and this may involve women being diverted to the unit best placed to give quality care at times of complex acuity and heavy workload.

“2. No women were recorded as being transferred beyond Mid Yorks despite there being a regional bed shortage at that time.

“3. The postnatal ward at DDH was full, however the delivery suite was able to accept women in labour.

“4. At Pinderfields the postnatal ward had beds but the delivery suite was full. This led to DDH triaging the labour calls and PGH admitting antenatal and postnatal triage patients only.

“5. There was a full complement of staff at Pinderfields but such were the pressures that community staff were brought in to assist during the evening.”

He concludes: “So the fact is that there were pressures at both DDH and at PGH but because we have the ability to flex across the three sites we were able to retain patients within our services, not something that can be said for all hospitals that day.

“This is such a rare occurrence but we are currently looking at the events of that day to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

“Our plans to improve maternity services includes Pinderfields obstetrics unit being configured to accommodate the high-risk women from Dewsbury who wish to birth in the unit.

“High-risk women will be booked to birth at the expanded obstetrics unit at Pinderfields – the women will be cared for within the unit irrespective of their geographical home.

“Women with low-risk pregnancies will be supported to birth in one of the midwifery-led units unless they also choose the obstetrics unit, which is their personal preference and they will, of course, be accommodated.”

Readers may remember that under very controversial ‘Meeting the Challenge’ consultation proposals, the number of births to be catered for at Dewsbury will fall from 2,500 per annum to just 500 in a ‘midwife-led’ unit.

This means that all but the most straightforward births will soon have to take place at Pinderfields.

I wonder how many of your readers would agree with me that the whole question of maternity provision in Dewsbury now needs a serious rethink.

The incident on Friday December 11 is described as “extremely rare” but this simply reminds me of David Cameron thinking he could talk himself out of years of neglect of flood prevention in Yorkshire by describing the rainfall as “unprecedented”.

Too much rain or too little investment?  Too many births in Dewsbury or too little provision?


Medical insanity?

From: John Sheen, Dewsbury

Dear Sir,

The division between north and south gets wider. Jeremy Hunt our health secretary has probably never even heard of Dewsbury, yet his sign-off of the Mid Yorkshire Trust’s plan to downgrade Dewsbury Hospital will have a devastating effect on our local


The Trust are hell-bent on bringing these A&E changes forward even though the planned care in the community is still very much in its infancy.

Waiting times at the flagship Pinderfields Hospital have been registering between seven and nine hours.

The target figure for patients being seen within four hours of 95 per cent has been continually breached, with figures as low as 82.7 per cent and we haven’t even seen snow on the ground yet.

Anyone with half a brain can see that by reducing the Dewsbury asset to a cottage hospital, even though it serves a growing population with an elderly bias, things can only get worse.

Our MPs for Dewsbury and Batley, Paula Sherriff and Jo Cox, are working tirelessly behind the scenes and in Parliament to persuade the powers that be to, at least, review this dangerous decision.

We’ve already lost our children’s ward and 30 out of the 36 maternity beds have gone, even though figures released some time ago highlighted out of the 2,000 births each year 56 per cent, over half, were classified as high-risk.

The repercussions for this insanity are yet to be seen but, for the parents awaiting the arrival of a loved one, this game of Russian roulette should not be tolerated in the 21st century.

These adverse decisions against this once-great town, I must add, were well and truly assisted by our previous Member of Parliament Simon Reevell who could not see through the Mid Yorkshire Trust’s cost-saving, rather than life-saving, schemes.


Leaving a sinking ship

From: Ray Marshall, Mirfield

Dear Sir,

So our hospital boss has a new job in Cumbria, part-time, plus his job at Mid Yorkshire.

I would have thought both were more than full-time jobs!

Maybe he’s getting ready to leave a sinking ship?


Reaching a tipping point

From: Dr HT Gowda, General Practitioner, Albion Mount Medical Practice

Dear Sir,

Three days of industrial action started on Tuesday after talks broke down over the new contract.

The junior doctors have promised and categorically stated that patients’ safety and emergency services will not be compromised, and that they are fully protected by senior doctors during the strike period.

Democratically speaking, 98 per cent of junior doctors have supported strike action.

Junior doctors’ striking is only the tip of the iceberg as to what is happening in the NHS today.

The 2012 Health & Social Care Act is far-reaching and the most radical since the birth of the NHS.

Each political party has their own ideology of the NHS, and the NHS is bread and butter politics for them.

This 2012 Health & Social Care Act was opposed by the medical profession and the vast majority of the public, yet it was passed through Parliament by the coalition government, led by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

This has led to creeping privatisation in the NHS, and big private companies are bidding for contracts.

At grassroots level the clinical commissioning groups around the country are struggling to provide comprehensive health care for their local population, due to either conflict of interest, lack of resources  or interference by past PCT managers now employed by the CCGs.

Most of the CCGs are lacking a democratic mandate in their structure.

The 2012 Health & Social Care Act also provided room for reconfiguration of secondary care services, which led in many areas to closure of hospitals and A&E departments around the country in favour of centralisation.

One of the main casualties locally is Dewsbury District Hospital, which is gradually disappearing in favour of centralisation at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

To quote a retired consultant Dr Peter Fisher, we think it is important to remember that the junior doctors and the consultants supporting them and covering in their absence to maintain patient safety, are in a far better position to understand the effects of the proposed contract than someone in Whitehall.

The instigator of the dispute was Mr Hunt, by threatening to impose a new contract which had not been agreed, and he has never explained how this contract would improve services but appears to be imposing it and provoking a damaging dispute in pursuit of an ill-thought through and undefined manifesto promise of a seven-day service, which the NHS already provides for emergency cases and always has done.

General practice is in the middle of a crisis with a lack of resources and badly in need of greater funding.

Primary care is the front line of the NHS, and is facing unprecedented pressure due to the soaring demand.

The crisis is further aggravated by lack of GPs for recruitment, and a third of GPs are expected to retire within the next five years.

A special conference of local medical committees by GPs is scheduled for January 30 to discuss what actions are needed to ensure that GPs can deliver a safe and sustainable service to patients in the face of the ever increasing unsourced shift of work from secondary care to primary care.

According to OECD 2013 statistics, in the UK we are the 21st on the list on spending power for the NHS, compared to other European countries.

We spend 8.5 per cent of GDP compared to 10.9 in France. These figures give an idea to the arguments that we cannot afford a publicly-funded NHS, as other countries spend more public money on health services than we do.

Therefore the NHS is in a crisis that needs both a political and public debate to save the precious NHS.

As was said by its founding father, the NHS will survive as long as the public will use it and fight for it.

We seem to be at a potential tipping point right now.


It’s not too much to ask...

From: Stephen Hopkins, Batley

Dear Sir,

My New Year’s wishes: Someone at Kirklees to answer a telephone, someone at Kirklees to sort the pavement out on Bradford Road between Centenary Road and the Salvation Army, after rain it’s just like walking in the Lake District.

Drivers to stay on the right side of the road especially going round bends at the bottom of Carlinghow Lane and Cross Bank Road.

Drivers to check their lights are working – are taxis allowed to carry passengers when their lights are not legal?

And can all dogs be fitted with plastic pants.

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