A&E ‘name change’ plan sparks alarm

Pontefract Hospital.
Pontefract Hospital.

Plans to re-name Pontefract’s accident and emergency department as an “urgent care centre” have sparked fears for the future of the service.

The potential name change is part of a shake-up of urgent and A&E services designed to help hospitals and GPs meet rising demand from patients.

Yvette Cooper MP.

Yvette Cooper MP.

Plans by Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which controls the district’s NHS budget, also include the closure of a walk-in centre in Wakefield city centre where people can see medics without an appointment.

A report by CCG bosses said a consultation would be launched on changes including the “potential closure of the walk-in-service at King Street” and “renaming of the Pontefract Emergency Department to an urgent care centre.”

Dr Adam Sheppard, the CCG’s assistant clinical chairman, said: “Originally we thought it could mean the closure of the Wakefield walk-in centre in April 2016, but we have extended this until September 2017 while we carry out a wider review, and ensure that better alternatives can be ut in place.

“We’re also looking at the service we provide in our A&E departments across the district to make sure they are safe, resilient, and offer the best possible outcomes for patients. This will include 24-7 services at both Pinderfields and Pontefract.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said she wanted a guarantee that the A&E name change would not see a reduction in the service.

She said: “We need Pontefract A&E and the rest of the hospital to be fully used for patients on this side of the district. It’s better for patients here and it relieves pressure on Pinderfields as well.

“We’ve already seen waiting times go up and we’ve got serious staff shortages as a result of the government’s failure to train enough doctors and nurses.”