UNDER-fire chiefs at a troubled health trust admitted they are “nowhere near” recruiting the doctors needed to reopen Pontefract Hospital’s accident and emergency department at night.
A report to a Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust board meeting last Thursday gave hope a timetable was to be set for reversing the controversial overnight closure of the unit – but chiefs admitted the new way of working they were looking at adopting took five years to implement at another hospital.
Hours before the meeting, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper and Featherstone MP Jon Trickett sent a letter to the trust demanding answers about the lack of action to reopen the department, which is shut between 10pm and 8am because of a staff shortage. They said: “The lack of urgency displayed by the trust is simply incomprehensible. As local MPs, we are deeply concerned that the trust is dragging its feet instead of taking the urgent action required now.”
At the meeting, medical director Prof Tim Hendra said the trust was “nowhere near” recruiting the six doctors it needed to reopen the department using the current service model.
He added the trust was now looking at a model adopted at Hexham Hospital which involves a large pool of skilled nurses and a small pool of GPs with specialist skills.
When asked when this new model could see the A&E at Pontefract reopen, he replied: “The fact is, it does take a long time to recruit doctors. Even if we advertised today, it would take time to recruit and we may not find the doctors with the skills as required.”
He added: “It took Hexham five years to get where they are.”
Former Pontefract councillor and board member Jack Kershaw hit out at the delay and said residents in the town felt “betrayed”. Trust bosses pledged to develop a timescale for the possible reopening of the A&E and said they would update MPs about steps being taken at a meeting early next month.