New boss wants A&E timescale

Stephen Eames.
Stephen Eames.

THE new chief executive of the trust which runs Pontefract Hospital said he hopes to have a timescale for reopening its A&E at night by the end of next month.

Stephen Eames, who took over the role from Julia Squire at the beginning of March, said he could not say when the Friarwood Lane unit would be restored between 10pm and 8am – but hoped to have a plan in place by April 27.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s board voted to shut the facility at night for safety reasons last November because of a shortage of middle-grade doctors.

Mr Eames, who has joined the trust in an interim role, said: “We are working on that at the moment, putting as much effort as we can into getting to a position where we can bring services back into play.”

Last month the Express reported how trust medical director Tim Hendra told a board meeting it was looking at a new service model which could see A&E reopen at night – but warned it had taken another hospital five years to implement it.

The plan would see the unit staffed by large pool of skilled nurses and a small pool of GPs with specialist skills during the night.

Mr Eames said he hoped to reopen Pontefract A&E at night “much faster” and hoped to have a timetable in place before a meeting with Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper and Featherstone MP Jon Trickett in April.

Ms Cooper, who met the new chief executive and new trust board chairman David Stone with Mr Trickett last Friday, welcomed the new management team but said it needed to take more urgent action to reopen A&E.

She said: “The new management is welcome because we badly need a fresh start, but this is the chance for the trust to stop dragging its feet over A&E.

“As we made clear in our meeting last week, waiting months and months just to get a timetable for reopening A&E simply isn’t good enough.

“People have already waited too long. We need action to reopen A&E now.

“We also called for action to meet the other promises we were made – for more beds and services at Pontefract and to stop sending patients from here to Dewsbury.”

The trust has previously said it plans to reopen Pontefract A&E as soon as it is clinically safe and there have been no “adverse incidents” since the unit closed.