Union responds to hospital consultation

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital
Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

A health union has heavily criticised a consultation on plans to change hospital services across the district.

Unison’s Mid Yorkshire Hospitals branch has produced a report responding to the Meeting the Challenge consultation, which suggests a radical overhaul of Mid Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust’s services.

Under the consultation plan, Pinderfields Hospital would become an acute and complex centre, while Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospitals would become elective and rehabilitation centres.

Among the proposals would be the loss of 202 beds across the trust, and the downgrading of maternity and A&E services at Dewsbury.

In Pontefract the proposals see an increase of services, including moving ophthalmology and orthopaedic surgery to the hospital, which took place earlier this year.

The report, Promises Promises, researched for Unison by Dr John Lister, director of Health Emergency, claims the proposals “are clearly not driven by the needs of patients...but on the unfolding and unresolved crisis of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, its financial instability and its quest for further centralisation of services at Pinderfields”.

It also said many of the improvements to services the consultation document claims will be delivered if the proposals go ahead had not been fully explained, evidence provided or details of how they will be funded, calling them “aspirations and wishful thinking, but with little credibility as a practical plan”.

Unison’s response also claims the loss of services at Dewsbury “flows from the high costs of the PFI hospital scheme, and the need to focus services on this costly site [Pinderfields] in order to make maximum use of the asset, regardless of the consequences for patients further afield”.

It also criticised the consultation process, calling it “a charade of pretending to seek local views”.

Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group have jointly run the three-month consultation, which ends tomorrow.

The GP-led groups, which commission health services for the district, will analyse the responses to the consultation and consult with the hospital trust and other partners, before making a formal decision on the proposals at a joint board meeting on Thursday July 25.

Martin Carter, head of communications and engagement for Meeting the Challenge said: “We thank Unison for its detailed response to the consultation which has already been sent to the independent organisation we have commissioned to undertake the detailed analysis of all the consultation responses.

“Far from being a sham, the consultation exercise has been a robust, comprehensive, wide reaching and multi-faceted exercise reaching out to gather the views of the 600,000 or so residents of north Kirklees and Wakefield district.

“Almost 250,000 summary documents were delivered to households across the area. A total of 40 roadshows have been staged, eight public meetings held and dozens of other meetings and other engagement events have taken place.

“We have also undertaken a telephone survey against a stratified sample of 1,000 local residents, attended ten evidence gathering sessions with the joint health overview and scrutiny committee and sent delegations to open meetings at the Al Hikmah Centre, the Saville Road Mosque and the Taleem Centre – all in North Kirkleees.

“We have responded fully to more than 1,000 individual emails, posted a wealth of information on the Meeting the Challenge website, engaged directly with patients and relatives in our local hospitals, conducted a series of focus groups and have been entirely open and transparent throughout the process which is still open until midnight on May 31.

“The proposals themselves are designed to provide people across north Kirklees and Wakefield with a safer model of services which delivers high quality care and better recoveries whilst maintaining local access for people needing routine care. This is a model of services that operates very successfully in other parts of the country and has been proven to be safe and clinically and financially sustainable.”

Pontefract Hospital.