HEALTH chiefs have revealed the future of Pontefract Hospital’s accident and emergency department is “under review” as it plans its services for the next five years.
Bosses at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust say it will look at “the need for, and provision of, a 24/7 consultant-led emergency department” at the Friarwood Road facility after the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT) recommended it should be axed.
Last year, the Express reported how NCAT – which checks any hospital service changes are in the best interests of patients – revealed it had “serious doubts” about the sustainability of Pontefract’s A&E department and the safety of patients in the future. It suggested patients were instead treated at A&E departments at Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital and Dewsbury and District Hospital, in a move which would save £3.8m.
At the time trust chief executive Julia Squire said it would review the report’s recommendation but would go ahead with its new £300m hospitals in Pontefract and Wakefield as planned unless there were concerns over patient safety.
But this week the trust confirmed a review was taking place earlier than expected because the Department of Health had brought forward a requirement for the trust to develop its next “five-year strategy”.
A trust spokesman said: “The review is at the start of the process.
“Phase one is being led by clinical teams from the trust alongside other colleagues, including GPs, who are reviewing all hospital services to look at how they could best be provided in future.
“A robust appraisal process is being carried out by clinicians, focusing on safety, quality, patient experience, efficiency and sustainability.
“During the next couple of months, a shortlist of viable options will be developed through discussions with hospital clinicians, local GPs and other community clinicians and key stakeholders.
“This will identify options for discussion with local people to improve clinical outcomes and efficiency and secure safe, sustainable and viable services.”
The trust said over the next few months it would speak to residents and “key stakeholders” – including Wakefield Council’s overview and scrutiny committees for health and social care. It will then ask NCAT to carry out a “thorough review” of the proposed options to “ensure that they offer safe, effective and accessible services for patients”.
In January, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper and Featherstone MP Jon Trickett presented a 1,000-strong signature petition to trust bosses urging them to keep a consultant-led A&E unit in the town.