Pontefract Hospital ‘under-utilised’

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A HOSPITAL chief has admitted Pontefract Hospital is “under-utilised” as a major review of clinical services gets underway tomorrow.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Pontefract, Pinderfields and Dewsbury hospitals – is holding a clinical strategy day at the National Coalmining Museum.

Trust staff, representatives from the primary care trust (PCT) and other healthcare commissioning groups, members of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, special interest groups and representatives of patient group Wakefield LINk will meet to discuss how services are provided across the trust.

Services at Pontefract, including the long-term future of its A&E will be up for discussion, and Stephen Eames, interim chief executive, said: “Pontefract Hospital is under-utilised and what we are looking to do is use it more than we do now, particularly for elective and outpatient activities.”

He added the strategy day was the first step in a process which would lead to a public consultation on how hospital services are provided in the district.

Mr Eames said: “It is right to say we discussing across all our hospitals the future of all services.

“We need to understand from stakeholders what the key issues are for them. We’ll be talking about services, but also access and transport, all part of the agenda.

“Our priorities are patient safety, improving clinical outcomes and improving patient experience are paramount. That’s also got to be supported by strong performance as an organisation and good financial stewardship.”

He added the review would take into acccount how to create centres of excellence, reflecting current trends towards more centralised services, but balanced with the need for local access.

Mr Eames said: “Something else we want to ratchett up is alternatives to hospital admission, particularly older people and people with long-term conditions. Can we keep people out of hospital and when they are in, it’s for the minimum amount of time.

“Part of that agenda is where can we work with other local trusts and service providers, some of what we need to do may well include other trusts in the area.”

He added: “We are going into discussion and opening up that discussion with key stakeholders and need to see what comes out of that, because no doubt there will be a range of views and opinions. We’re aiming to get some broad agreement about what options we take forward to the next stage, and work a much more detailed analysis of those.

“Part of that must be about us and our stakeholders working together to build up a ranking for those options before we go to public consultation.”

The trust aims to have informal public talks about any proposed changes, before moving to formal public consultation next year.