Health bosses hope to reassure people over shake-up of A&E services in Wakefield

Health bosses hope to reassure people that they can still be looked after at Pontefract Hospital following planned changes to emergency provision.

The town’s A&E department will be re-classified as an urgent treatment centre from April. It means people with serious and life-threatening conditions will go straight to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

The plan raised fears that the hospital was being “downgraded” and that patients would have further to travel for treatment.

But a report to Wakefield Council’s public health and the NHS overview and scrutiny committee said: “Analysis of current attendances shows that the vast majority of people who attend Pontefract are appropriate for the service that is provided there.

“Less than 10 per cent of people require transfer to Pinderfields. The objective will be to reassure these people that Pontefract is still the right place to go.”

A survey by Healthwatch Wakefield found there was opposition to the changes at Pontefract Hospital and confusion about what services were currently available.

The scrutiny report said: “We know from the public engagement in the summer that some people are confused about whether Pontefract is able to treat very serious conditions such as a heart attack or an unconscious child. We need to make sure people know that in life threatening situations, the best thing to do is call an ambulance.”

The urgent treatment centre will be open 24 hours a day. The report said: “This would make better use of workforce as consultants would not need to be based in the urgent treatment centre and would be used at Pinderfields, where most seriously ill patients already go for treatment.”

Staffing shortages raised fears over the safety of keeping a full A&E department in Pontefract.

A report by NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Nationally there is a shortage of emergency medicine consultants and registrars

“This means we have to consider different ways of working which support the current workforce and still provide patients with early senior decision-making.”

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