An NHS trust has decided against carrying out a downgrade of Dewsbury’s accident and emergency department six months earlier than planned.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has ditched a speeded-up timetable for changes to A&E services after struggling with shortstaffing and delays in its emergency departments.
Dewsbury’s A&E will become an urgent care centre treating minor ailments from April 2017 after the trust decided it was not safe to downgrade it in September this year.
Under the changes, more seriously ill and injured people will be taken straight to a beefed-up emergency department at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
David Melia, Mid Yorkshire’s acting chief nurse, said: “Earlier in the year we announced that we were looking at our plans to assess the possibility of moving this element of the reconfiguration forward.
“However we have taken the decision that, in order to ensure these changes are delivered safely and we have the appropriate staffing levels in place, it is in everyone’s interests to stick to the original timescale.”
Two weeks ago health secretary Jeremy Hunt agreed to look into patient safety concerns after facing questions from Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff on NHS budget cuts.
Ms Sherriff told the Health Select Committee: “It’s absolutely crystal clear that patient safety is being compromised.”
Figures also showed a big increase in patients stuck in ambulances outside A&E.
Patients are supposed to be handed over to A&E within 15 minutes - but that target was breached 937 times in March at Pinderfields, leaving paramedics unable to respond to fresh 999 calls.
Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox said the A&E decision was taken by Martin Barkley, who took over as Mid Yorkshire’s chief executive from May 1.
She said: “The new chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Trust has taken the decision to look again at the timetable for these significant changes to services at our hospital.
“In my regular meetings with the trust I have asked that the timetables for all these changes be scrutinised carefully and continually in order that there is minimal disruption in the services being offered.
“Underlying these issues are the very serious staffing problems at the trust, which are currently having a severe impact on service delivery.
“I have been pushing them to find a resolution to these issues and I will continue to.”