No need for alarm over Dewsbury and District Hospital A&E proposals

As clinicians we rarely want to enter into debate with colleagues in the pages of the media. However, we are concerned that the details contained in Dr Thimmegowda’s letter are misleading and may cause unnecessary alarm for local people.

In his letter on your website ( Dr Thimmegowda refers to the Nicholls study of A&E departmentsGiven that we are not planning to close any local A&E department, it is not a valid comparison. However, it is relevant to note that the Nicholls study used data from 1997-2001. Since then there have been many advances in pre-hospital care. The study acknowledges that any distance effect may be mitigated by an improvement in the clinical model at the receiving hospital – which is exactly what we are proposing. It is the time from calling for help to being seen by a specialist clinician that is important and not the time to crossing the hospital threshold. Changing our emergency services in the way we are proposing would enable patients to be seen much earlier by specialists.

The emergency department in Dewsbury is not closing and will be able to support the ambulance service in stabilising an extremely sick patient if the paramedics feel the patient needs that.

The ambulance service is already very experienced at taking patients to the most appropriate hospitals for their condition – often this is beyond either Dewsbury or Pinderfields. For example, for patients who suffer a heart attack the ambulance will bypass both local hospitals and take them straight to Leeds where the appropriate specialists can give them exactly the right life saving treatments.

Dr Thimmegowda also refers to the closure of the Newark A&E department. It is worth noting that the change in Newark involved a distance of 22 miles. The distance from Dewsbury to Pinderfields is only 9 miles.

Our proposals for the A&E service to patients in the north Kirklees area will give patients increased access to the most specialist services when their need is greatest. For the majority of patients who currently use the A&E department in Dewsbury, they will see no change. For the most seriously ill patients, their care may be a few miles further down the road, but their chances of making a good recovery will be improved.

Dr Matt Shepherd

Divisional clinical director for Medicine and A&E consultant

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr David Kelly

GP and chairman

NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group

Dr Farhad Kohi

GP and vice-chairman

NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group