Dewsbury and District Hospital to lose 250 beds

HIDDEN COST Coun Karen Rowling and campaigners have hit out at hospital bosses. (D532B347)
HIDDEN COST Coun Karen Rowling and campaigners have hit out at hospital bosses. (D532B347)

More than two thirds of beds at Dewsbury and District Hospital will be lost if a radical service shake up goes ahead.

Dewsbury currently has 360 beds – but this would drop to just 110 under Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust plans referred to the Secretary of State.

The Trust has always said its proposed service changes mean fewer beds would be needed in future.

But the full extent of the cuts was only revealed this week, prompting accusations that it purposely kept the public in the dark.

Save Dewsbury Hospital campaigner Coun Karen Rowling said: “At every stage the Trust has tried to hide the true scale of these cuts and obfuscate the whole process.

“Why was this dramatic reduction not mentioned in their lengthy and expensive consultation?”

The Trust held a public consultation earlier this year on plans to downgrade Dewsbury’s A&E department and move some children’s and maternity services to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Trust chief executive Stephen Eames said: “We have consistently given the figure of around 200 fewer beds from across the three Mid Yorkshire hospitals should our proposals be approved and this has not changed.

“As we have made clear in our consultation document, we have worked out our proposed bed numbers very carefully, and believe that we would need fewer beds than we have at the moment. We have taken account of the growing number of elderly people, and the overall population growth.”

He said services and bed numbers at Pontefract changed when the new hospital opened in 2011 and the consultation made it clear that the current proposals would mainly affect Dewsbury and Pinderfields.

A summary consultation document sent to thousands of homes did not include any figures on bed reductions.

The full consultation document said the Trust expected to add 50 beds at Pinderfields, but would need around 200 fewer beds across its sites.

It did not specify at which hospital reductions in beds would be made.

But this week the Trust confirmed it expected to remove 250 beds from Dewsbury by 2017 if its plans were approved.

Pontefract would keep all of its 60 beds and the number of beds at Pinderfields would rise from 730 to 810.

It would mean an overall reduction across the Trust of 170 beds.

Save Dewsbury Hospital member Dathan Tedesco said: “This isn’t a surprise because our sources have mooted these numbers, even if we hoped they were wrong.

“If there was any doubt left about the Trust’s intentions to destroy local hospital services this puts an end to it.”

Mr Eames said: “If the changes are implemented, more care at Dewsbury would be provided as outpatient care and short stay surgery which means fewer beds would be needed.

“However, we have also made it clear that overall the number of patients seen at Dewsbury will increase. This is in keeping with our commitment to ensuring Dewsbury remains a vibrant local hospital.”

But Coun Rowling (Lab, Dews East) said: “Let’s be honest and call this what it is – a 69 per cent reduction in beds at Dewsbury.”