A Yorkshire MP has hit out at the Government’s funding of the NHS after the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust announced it is reducing capacity at one of its stroke units.
The Pontefract Stroke and Medical Rehabilitation Unit will have 12 beds fewer beds until further notice as part of urgent cost-saving strategies.
In a letter to MP for Hemsworth Jon Trickett, the trust’s chief executive Martin Barkley said the move was in light of a £20m deficit which has been blamed on additional costs resulting from the rebuilding of Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals under a Private Finance Initiative.
Mr Barkley wrote: “Whilst we have two fabulous new hospitals, no extra funding has been provided to fund the payments. At the same time the NHS is facing a national shortage of nurses. Despite intense and ongoing recruitment activity, we continue to experience staffing pressures and still have 100 registered nurse vacancies.”
Reacting to the news, Mr Trickett said: “It is simply not acceptable that people in our area are being forced to get along with less because the Government refuses to properly fund the NHS.
“Communities that suffer from deprivation and the legacy of dangerous work in the mines, like Hemsworth, need the very best care, but our hospitals are being prevented from providing that.
“We have some of the most dedicated staff and nurses in the country here in Yorkshire, and it is absolutely criminal that they are not being given the support they need to properly do their job.”
However, despite the move, Mr Barkley insists patient care will not be affected.
In a statement issued by the trust, he said: “We can reassure our patients that anyone suffering a stroke will be provided with excellent care via our specialist unit at Pinderfields dedicated to treating all acute stroke patients.
“The temporary reduction of 12 beds is on our medical ward at Pontefract which predominantly provides rehabilitation and step-down care, not just for stroke patients but for those requiring post-operative care and 30 beds remain open.
“As a result of improvements we have made to care, which has reduced our patients’ length of stay, there is currently less pressure on the beds needed at Pontefract, despite pressure on beds elsewhere in the trust.
“Nevertheless, this is not an easy decision. The trust faces significant financial challenges, not least due to the costs of servicing our PFI funded estate, for which we receive no extra funding, and the staffing pressures we face.
“This combination places enormous responsibility on the trust to utilise the financial and staffing resource we do have in the most effective way possible. We will of course keep this decision under constant review.”