OUTRAGED community leaders are demanding the government takes action to reopen Pontefract Hospital’s accident and emergency department at night.
Members of Pontefract Town Centre Partnership (PTCP) have sent a letter to secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley calling for his “direct intervention” to reverse the controversial closure of the Friarwood Lane facility between 10pm and 8am daily.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust board voted to shut A&E at night last October after hearing it did not have enough doctors to safely staff its three emergency departments in Pontefract, Wakefield and Dewsbury.
The trust has claimed there is a national shortage of emergency middle grade rota staff but the Department of Health said the number of doctors specialising in emergency medicine has increased.
In the letter, seen by the Express, Sir Bill O’Brien, on behalf of the group, writes: “This situation in Pontefract is extremely serious with over 14,000 people signing a petition [by MPs Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett and the Express] urgently calling for the A&E to provide a 24-hour service, which was promised when the new hospital opened a year ago in January 2011.
“Our concerns are heightened when your office states that more doctors specialising in emergency treatment are being recruited into the NHS. These additional doctors are not visible in the Mid Yorkshire area where NHS services are being reduced, causing significant pain and suffering to many people.”
The group said it was concerned about the number of patients being forced to travel to Wakefield and Dewsbury for treatment.
The trust has said the unit will be reopened as soon as it is safe to do so and is currently looking at alternative service models for the department.