Health bosses have pleaded with two MPs to help clear up “misunderstandings” about the future of an A&E department.
They have sent an open letter to Paula Sherriff and Tracy Brabin asking them to make it clear that there is no plan to close Dewsbury’s emergency department.
Both MPs have raised concerns over patient safety at the hospital after a surge in winter A&E attendances caused delays in A&E for patients at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.
The trust, which also runs Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals, faced unprecedented demand and only managed to see 77.7 per cent of A&E patients within four hours - against a target of 95 per cent - latest figures showed.
It was also at the second highest patient safety alert level amid a winter crisis at hospitals around the country.
Mid Yorkshire is planning to centralise A&E care for the most seriously ill patients at Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield from this spring, a move MPs have described as a “downgrade” of Dewsbury hospital.
The letter, made public today by the trust, is signed by its chairman Jules Preston and Dr David Kelly, chairman of North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which controls the local NHS budget.
It said: “We are taking the unusual step of sending an open letter to you both as our local MPs in the hope it will help clear up some of the misunderstanding in the communities you serve about the changes planned at Dewsbury hospital.”
The letter points out that the changes at Dewsbury A&E were approved by the health secretary in 2014, and that Dewsbury A&E will continue to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The A&E would have consultants working day times and evenings, then an on-call consultant at night.
‘We are asking you to help us make it clear to local people there is not, and has never been, a plan to close the A&E department at Dewsbury: IT IS NOT CLOSING.’
The letter said: “People who are very ill and likely to need a stay in hospital will be taken directly to Pinderfields if they call a 999 ambulance.
“If a person comes to Dewsbury Hospital and the clinical team find they need inpatient care, they will be stabilised and transferred to Pinderfields.”
Yesterday Ms Sherriff, the Dewsbury and Mirfield MP, wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May inviting her to visit Dewsbury hospital to see how staff were struggling with an over-stretched health service.
She said: “This is in spite of the heroic efforts of NHS staff who work long hours in incredibly difficult conditions to do their best for patients.”
Ms Sherriff said the changes at Dewsbury A&E would leave the whole of Kirklees without a full emergency department because similar changes were planned at Huddersfield.
She said: “I highlight these issues because, as you may be aware, my constituency and the wider Kirklees area are due to be hit by multiple hospital downgrades, community pharmacy closures and additional stresses on social care services due to the funding decisions of your government.”
Ms Brabin, the Batley and Spen MP, has questioned the Prime Minister and health secretary Jeremy Hunt about the future of Dewsbury hospital.
She described how an elderly patient waited almost 20 hours for a bed at the busy hospital over Christmas.