Patients facing long waits for a bed at hospitals

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Hospital A&E departments have been struggling to meet rising demand as patients face long delays getting beds on wards.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has fallen way short of its target for A&E patients to be seen within four hours of arriving at hospital.

Latest waiting time figures have raised fears for patient safety as the trust’s hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury face budget cuts and staffing shortages.

NHS guidelines say patients should be either admitted, discharged or transferred from hospital within four hours of arrival at A&E.

But Mid Yorkshire only managed 85.1 per cent in June.

That month alone, almost 1,300 patients faced waits of between four and 12 hours to be transferred from A&E to a ward, according to latest figures from NHS England.

Mid Yorkshire has appealed for people to use NHS walk-in centres, GP surgeries and pharmacies instead of A&E if their condition is not life-threatening.

Director of nursing David Melia said: “Emergency departments are suffering from continued severe pressure nationally.

“This is also true for the three emergency departments within Mid Yorkshire.

“We know that some of our patients are having to wait longer than we would like and we are doing everything possible to make sure that they are treated promptly and safely.”

Mid Yorkshire is facing budget cuts of £26m this financial year.

The organisation has been set a target to be £4.2m in surplus by the end of March 2017 in order to get £16.7m in bailout money from the government.

Trust bosses hope a centralisation of services which will see Pinderfields become the main centre for A&E, urgent operations and consultant-led maternity, will speed up patient care.

Dewsbury’s A&E will be downgraded to an urgent care centre treating minor ailments from next April.

The move has caused alarm in Kirklees after neighbouring Calderdale and Huddersfield announced similar plans to centralise A&E care in Halifax.

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff was also worried that Pinderfields may struggle to treat more patients as Mid Yorkshire is forced to cut costs..

She said: “I still remain highly concerned about the changes that are being proposed at Dewsbury.

“Essentially the whole of Kirklees will be without a full A&E. It’s absolutely crazy.

“We are receiving anecdotal evidence that Pinderfields isn’t coping.

“There simply isn’t capacity and for me there is a significant patient safety issue here.”

A move to treat all patients needing emergency surgery at Pinderfields will go ahead in September, six months earlier than first planned.

Dewsbury and Pontefract will have an urgent care centres, along with midwife-led units for births which do not require a consultant.

A public meeting to discuss the changes will be held at Dewsbury Town Hall at 7.30pm on Tuesday, organised by NHS campaigners.