HEALTH bosses have warned that ‘radical’ plans are being considered for local hospital services.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is looking at the future of every service it runs, including Dewsbury’s accident and emergency department.
Last week, we broke the news on our websites that Dewsbury and District Hospital’s A&E department was at risk.
The Reporter Series understands the Trust is looking at four options – only one of which would keep the A&E department as it is.
The other options would all mean a reduced service, such as only dealing with lesser emergencies or having junior doctors.
Interim chief executive Stephen Eames said proposals for service changes put forward last year did not go far enough.
“We’re looking to more radical scenarios than those that were on the table before. Since then the landscape has changed quite significantly,” he said.
He said the minimum level of change would be for inpatient obstetrics, inpatient paediatrics and inpatient acute surgery to be centralised, most likely at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
Two hospitals – most likely Dewsbury and Pontefract – would have a greater focus on routine care, but would still offer some form of emergency service.
Mr Eames insisted the changes were about better services for patients and not about money.
“We’re talking about service change, not hospital closures.” He said the Trust’s considerable debts were not the driving force behind the changes, but they had to be taken into account.
Mr Eames said: “The major driver is creating sustainable services that mean we can continue to provide a high quality service and improve outcomes for patients.
“We’re expecting some of the care currently provided in hospitals to be provided in a different setting. We also have to be sure of is that whatever we do is affordable.”
Last Friday, the Trust met 120 representatives from health organisations, councils and patient groups to talk about the potential changes.
The North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group is among the organisations playing a major role.
Chairman Dr David Kelley said: “These are very difficult messages for us all to hear and we need to help people understand why change is necessary.
“Our first concern will always be to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.
“We also know all too well that there is not an unlimited pot of money so as commissioners we have to make sure NHS money is spent where it can do the most good.”
The Trust has said it will go public with the details of all options being considered within three weeks.
In the meantime, Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell (Con) is due to meet with Mr Eames.
He said: “It’s important that we find out what’s truth and what’s rumour.”
After getting feedback from local communities on the early proposals, the Trust will draw up at least two preferred options.
In the autumn, it will put forward a business case to the trust board and NHS Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield District.
If approved, those preferred options will then be subject to a full public consultation, expected to begin in January 2013.