Backlash to hospital move

Labour�"s shadow secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves visiting Kirklees College with Parliamentary Candidate Paula Sherriff in Dewsbury.
Labour�"s shadow secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves visiting Kirklees College with Parliamentary Candidate Paula Sherriff in Dewsbury.
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The proposal to “downgrade” Dewsbury hospital earlier than planned has sparked a backlash in parliament.

MPs Paula Sherriff and Jo Cox appealed to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt over fears that the move is motivated by cuts to the NHS budget.

It was Mr Hunt who approved Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust’s “Meeting the Challenge” plan in 2014.

He deemed the changes to be safe despite fears that transferring critical A&E care and other services to Wakefield would compromise safety leave patients with too far to travel.

Now Mr Hunt faces renewed calls to intervene after a revised timetable emerged which would see the changes happen earlier than was agreed with him.

Ms Cox, the Batley and Spen MP, said: “There is great concern and nervousness about the downgrade at this time and the confidence that this will work is low.

“If this does not work I want the Health Secretary to pledge to step in and order the downgrade of our hospital to be reversed.”

Both Ms Cox and Paula Sherriff, the Dewsbury MP, asked Mr Hunt to meet them .

Speaking in parliament, Ms Sherriff said: “Dewsbury hospital will be significantly downgraded before infrastructure is in place to ensure that patients still receive vital care safely.

“Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss this premature move, which appears to be purely financially driven and not in the best interests of my constituents?”

In response Ben Gummer, parliamentary under-secretary for health, said: “The reconfiguration she mentions is the responsibility of local commissioners, but I am very happy to meet her, and anyone she wishes to bring with her, to discuss the planned changes.”

Ms Sherriff has also written to Mid Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Eames. She told Mr Eames: “I need to be totally convinced that all aspects of safety around the proposals have been thoroughly researched and I ask that the findings of all such research are shared with me at the earliest opportunity.”

The Wakefield and Kirklees joint health scrutiny committee - which referred the original plan to Mr Hunt in 2014 - will discuss the revised timetable at a meeting tomorrow.