Hospitals future fear

Stephen Eames.
Stephen Eames.

HEALTH bosses have three months to come up with a viable plan for the future of the district’s hospitals after admitting it will not achieve Foundation Trust (FT) status for the “foreseeable future”.

Stephen Eames, interim chief executive of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pontefract Hospital, said a detailed analysis into the trust’s financial position had now been completed.

10th November 2011' MP Yvette Cooper'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

10th November 2011' MP Yvette Cooper'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

He revealed it would not be able to balance its books even by 2017 – long-term financial viability is one of the prerequisites of becoming a FT.

The government is requiring trusts to achieve FT status by April 2014, and those that miss the target could face mergers or being broken up.

Mr Eames said: “It is not possible for this trust to progress to becoming a FT in the foreseeable future.

“What we have agreed as a result of reaching that view is we will spend until late September/early October working through what the longer term position of this organisation will be.”

He admitted the trust could be in danger of being broken up, but added: “It could be a less good option than sustaining the current model in some form of partnership with another organisation.”

The trust will work with primary care trusts, their replacement clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the Strategic Health Authority and Department of Health to come up with a proposal for the future of the trust.

Dr Phil Earnshaw, a Ferrybridge GP and head of Wakefield CCG, said: “We are not at that stage where trusts are here to pick off bits of Mid Yorkshire. That’s why we are absolutely emphasising that we are in control here.

“I want local services, local trusts and ourselves as commissioners making decisions about what’s best at this point of time.”

The announcement coincides with more detailed proposals released by the trust this week about its clinical services review.

The trust has come up with two options which are going out to pre-consultation, with a formal three-month consultation planned for January.

Both would see Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield as the centre for emergency and complex cases, with more elective, rehabilitation and outpatient care at Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals.

One of the options would also see Dewsbury’s A&E downgraded to an urgent care centre, while in both options Pontefract would become an urgent care centre, treating minor injuries.

Mr Eames said: “This assumes under this long-term strategy we move away from a 24/7 consultant-led service to an urgent care service, but at the same time increasing outpatients, elective and day cases, rehabilitation and medical investigations.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “We’ve warned for some time that the trust can’t meet this arbitrary government deadline to become a Foundation Trust by 2014.

“Ministers should not be forcing our hospitals to cut services to meet their chaotic reform agenda. Cutting £60m from local services while spending £30m on reorganisation is really bad for patient care.

“I’m really worried about what this means for Pontefract.

“We need urgent reassurance from ministers that they won’t force local hospitals and services to close.”