A&E reopens on Monday

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PONTEFRACT Hospital’s A&E department will reopen its doors at night again from Monday.

The service, which closed between 10pm and 8am from November 1 last year, will resume 24-hour operation from Monday September 3.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, came under a storm of protest over the move from politicians, community leaders and the public, prompting the Express to launch its Save Our A&E campaign.

The trust took the decision to temporarily close the unit at night last October, due to a shortage of emergency doctors.

However, it signed a contract earlier this summer with health service provide Primecare for emergency medicine-skilled GPs to cover the A&E department overnight, initially for 12 months.

Dr Richard Jenkins, the trust’s interim medical director, said: “We made a commitment to reopen the emergency department overnight at Pontefract and we are delighted to say that we have made good on that commitment.

“The team of GPs will work with out emergency medicine nursing staff and an on-site anaesthetist to assess and terat anyone who attends between 10pm and 8am. However, if those people are critically ill or need to be admitted, they will be transferred to Pinderfields Hospital was was the prior arrangement.

“It is important that people continue to dial 999 in an emergency situation so that crictically ill or severely injured patients are taken directly to the most appropriate A&E department.”

Carole Langrick, chief operating officer at the trust, added: “The safety of our patients will always be our first priority. Last yera we were unable to recruit enough emergency doctors to keep the service operating safely overnight.

“The overnight service we have now put in place in Pontefract was always intended as a short-term measure.

“We are currently looking at options for the long-term future of emergency care at Pontefract as part of our clinical services strategy.

“No decisions have yet been made, but we expect to be going to formal consultation on this and a range of other service changes early next year.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, who heavily criticised the decision to close A&E overnight, said: “This is a tribute to people power. Over 14,000 people signed our petition or joined the Express campaign after the old management broke their promises to us.

“We vowed to fight to get overnight A&E reopened and people power has now delivered. Since last November’s public meeting the entire management board has been replaced and it is very welcome that the new management has listened to us. But this is just the first step.

“We still need the trust to bring back other services into Pontefract as promised. Local hospitals are also still at serious risk from cuts and government NHS reforms. So our campaign to support Pontefract hospital must continue.”