An emergency care service transferred from Dewsbury & District Hospital due to staff shortages will stay at Pinderfields.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust closed the ‘Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit’ (AEC) last summer.
It has been under continuous evaluation ever since with particular attention given to capacity at the Pinderfields site and the impact on the Yorkshire Ambulance Service as its transfers patients to Wakefield.
Health chiefs say they intend to maintain the service in Wakefield as they recruit more Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs).
Three trainees have been appointed but there remains vacancies within the team. It takes approximately 36 months to train ANPs to level where they can work unsupervised.
And although two consultants have also been appointed the department “continues to carry significant vacancies” and is “heavily reliant” on agency support.
A report on AEC said there had been no complaints from doctors, patients or transport services.
Addressing Kirklees Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel Trudie Davies, Chief Operating Officer with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said in view of the continued workforce challenges, which are unlikely to resolve over the short term, it was recommended that the centralised service should be maintained and reviewed again in six months.
It was revealed that some GPs in North Kirklees continue to refer patients to A&E at Dewsbury Hospital rather than to the Operations Centre at Pinderfields.
Ms Davies commented: “We are working with our GP colleagues to understand why some GPs choose to always refer patients to A&E and not use the Ops Centre and some always use the Ops Centre.
“There are pocket of practices that seem to have a behaviour that is learnt or is easier. We need to work collectively to understand why that is. They’ve told us we need to improve our Operations Centre.”
Last year Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said the hospital had suffered an “incremental downgrade” of A&E and maternity services in recent years.
And despite Ms Davies’ assurances that Pinderfields offered a range of enhanced services there was concern from panel chairman Clr Liz Smaje.
She said: “It does feel as if you’re talking towards a situation where there may not be ambulatory care in Dewsbury at all. That does seem to be the direction in which it’s going.
“Reviewing it in six months means that it will have been closed for 12 months.”