During the “Meeting the Challenge” consultation about local hospital services we were assured many times that we need not be concerned about the loss of hospital beds, the downgrading of A&E at Dewsbury, or the transfer of many acute services to Pinderfields, because the new policy of “Care Closer to Home” (CCtH) would be the answer to everything. It would cut the number of visits to A&E, reduce the number of admissions to hospital and the length of stay in hospital and would support the provision of more outpatients’ clinics at Dewsbury and District Hospital so that patients would need to make fewer journeys to Pinderfields. And it would also save money.
We now know that at national level, serious doubt has been cast on the efficacy of CCtH and its capacity to save money, but our North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is still firmly wedded to the idea.
At a meeting some months ago organised by the local North Kirklees NHS Support Group, Dr Kelly promised that changes to local hospitals would not take place until CCtH was in place. He estimated that would take a year to 18 months. On 4 June, I attended the meeting of the CCG at Cleckheaton Town Hall and turned to the report setting out their Work Programme for 2014-5. Guess what, CCtH doesn’t even get a mention! So while the plans for downgrading A&E and maternity services and the reduction of 250 beds are proceeding apace (see last week’s report on the sale of five Dewsbury Hospital buildings), CCtH remains pie in the sky. Clearly we simply cannot trust the North Kirklees CCG with our precious local health services.