Proposed changes at Dewsbury and District Hospital ‘will be an utter disgrace’

As a local GP I would like to comment on the proposed changes to Dewsbury and District Hospital, which if carried out will be an utter disgrace.

We know the Mid Yorkshire Trust is facing a major financial crisis. Many believe this is due in part to mismanagement and inefficiency and also the coalition government’s white paper. This white paper is far-reaching and far more radical in its efforts to save over £5bn in the next five years, than any of us could have imagined and they say it is all in the name of efficiency.

The paper’s Health and Social Care bill is twofold – to welcome private companies to provide health services on the NHS and savings to the NHS as a result of stringent economies through government policies. Dewsbury and District Hospital has no debts or Private Funding Initiative burdens as does

Pinderfields Hospital, which has debts of over £20m and a PFI finance expenditure of over £40m every year.

If the preferred option agreed by the Mid Yorkshire Trust and the PCT (Clinical Commissioning Group) goes ahead, then Dewsbury and District Hospital will almost certainly be downgraded in the A&E department.

It will become a minor injury and ailments centre, and the core services, which we call glamorous departments, such as cardiology, neurology, urology, ICU and women and children’s services will be centralised at Pinderfields.

We are told Dewsbury and District Hospital will then be a centre of excellence for rehabilitation and orthopaedics, which means a centre for physiotherapy. This is an utter disgrace. The people of North Kirklees deserve better. They need equality of funding and fairness. All the core and glamorous departments must be shared fairly between all three mid Yorkshire hospitals.

One of the arguments put forward is that there are no modern facilities at Dewsbury. But this is no excuse. If this is the case then such facilities should be upgraded at Dewsbury from North Kirklees taxpayers’ money. Even if the people of North Kirklees reluctantly agree, and the A&E department does eventually become a minor injury and ailment centre, then it should be managed by senior consultants on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The most vulnerable people such as pregnant women in this society, such as children and the elderly who walk into the Dewsbury centre should be able to receive emergency treatment and be safely transported to other centres. The transport issue is crucial for such patients.

After pubic consultation if we cannot achieve our goal of fairness and equal status then we should seriously consider leaving Mid Yorkshire, to join Huddersfield Foundation Trust, to form Kirklees and Calderdale Foundation Trust.

The North Kirklees clinical commissioning group has a crucial role as commissioners on this issue.

The people of North Kirklees will not sit quietly while their NHS core service at Dewsbury is taken away. They will not accept this decision made by unelected bureaucrats. Pubic consultation should be thorough, and I appeal to all elected members and the public at large to join together and fight for fairness and equal footing for these changes.

We should not allow Dewsbury Hospital to gradually fall into decay and a slow death in the years to come. If we do, then future generations will never forgive us.

Dr H Thimmegowda

Albion Mount Medical Practice and Mountain Road Surgery