A consultation into downgrading services at Dewsbury hospital has been branded ‘phony’ and its outcome ‘grimly predictable’ in a union review.
And the plans themselves, which include downgrading the A&E department, have been criticised for treating the needs of patients in Dewsbury less seriously than those in Wakefield.
Health union Unison commissioned the report, ‘Promises, Promises’, to examine both Mid Yorkshire Hospitals’ consultation process and the plans.
It believes that ‘no serious case’ has been made for the downgrading, which also affects maternity and children’s services, and that the plan is a smokescreen to save cash and centralise services at newly-built PFI-funded Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals.
Union branch secretary Adrian O’Malley said: “The whole consultation process is a sham. People’s views will be totally ignored by the undemocratic, unelected people running the NHS.
“We have no faith in the process whatsoever. These consultations in the NHS are not worth the paper they are written on.”
The three-month public consultation started on March 4. Trust bosses say reorganising services at its three hospitals will save more lives, reduce waiting and recovery times, and make sure services are financially sustainable.
Unison’s report, written by Dr John Lister, director of Health Emergency, an organisation campaigning against hospital cuts, said these claims were “extravagant” and poorly backed up.
The report also criticises the Trust’s ideas for community-based healthcare, saying that it has not been shown how it will be organised or funded. It said: “None of this is outlined in the document, leaving the proposals as aspirations and wishful thinking, but with little credibility as a practical plan.”
£38m has been earmarked to pay for the proposed changes, but the report states: “All of it is to be spent on hospitals, almost all of it on Pinderfields Hospital, which is the least accessible for patients from North Kirklees.”
The report also said the consultation document ‘completely ignores the importance of emergency medical beds which would be axed at Dewsbury under proposals.’
The changes have been the topic of heated debate since last summer and campaign groups have sprung up to defend keeping services at Dewsbury.
A number of public meetings have been held to discuss the proposals, the last of which took place this week.
Former nurse Wendy Senior, from campaign group Save Our Local Hospital Services, said: “I’ve never met a set of people who are so arrogant.
“They won’t listen. It just seems as though they don’t care for Dewsbury.”
Martin Carter, Head of Communications and Engagement on the Meeting the Challenge consultation, said: “We thank Unison for their response to the consultation. We will make sure that it is included in our consideration and analysis of all the feedback received, along with the wealth of clinical evidence which underpins the proposals.
“However, I would state that the consultation exercise is in no way ‘phony’, as UNISON claims; rather, it is an extensive, robust and multi-faceted exercise which is reaching out to gather the views of as many of the 600,000 people in the North Kirklees and Wakefield district as possible.”