Documents detailing hospital shake-up plans claim there would be “no significant impact” on 999 journeys or patient safety if Calderdale Royal Hospital A&E closed down.
And they detail plans for care to be centred on Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
The 200 page dossier was finally published today, almost a year after the proposals were first rumoured.
The so called ‘Outline Business Case’ (OBC) reveals more than 400 jobs would go over the next ten years if the scheme goes ahead.
The OBC shows hospital chiefs’ plans in detail, including the predicted effects of the closure of the full accident and emergency service at Halifax.
The scenario is the preferred option of executives at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) as they bid to improve services amid shrinking budgets.
An option to close HRI’s A&E instead is also still on the table amid the wide ranging plans to split emergency care and “planned care”.
But CHFT has said it wants to focus emergency care in Huddersfield and planned care in Calderdale.
A public consultation on the proposal was shelved in July but could be revived next year.
The OBC, published today for the first time, says the risk to patient safety is “low” if the preferred plan is given the green light.
Calderdale residents would have a “nurse-led minor injuries unit” at CRH open from 8am to 10pm and another at Todmorden. Nurses could be supported by video links to a senior clinician.
Emergency patients would be taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary A&E, Leeds General Infirmary or Bradford, depending on the injury.
Minor injury units would also operate at HRI and Holme Valley Memorial Hospital.
409 jobs would go over the next ten years as the Calderdale site is scaled down from a 420-bed hospital to one with 85 beds for outpatients and elective surgery only.
If Huddersfield was chosen as the site for emergency care it would have to be expanded to more than 550 beds. Plans include a new 130-bed ward, a bigger intensive care unit and A&E department, a new women and children’s unit and new theatres.
£100m worth of improvement work at HRI is already overdue.
The cost of expanding CRH would be much higher and re-development could take a year longer due to the restrictive PFI deal.
The Halifax site is also smaller and less suitable for acute activity due to the layout of the wards. Analysis suggests it would cost an extra £1m to staff CRH with nurses if it was the main emergency centre.
Halifax MP, Linda Riordan, who spoke earlier this year at the meeting to battle for Calderdale A&E's future pictured below, said the “fight would go on to keep A&E in Calderdale”.
She said: “Bottom line is what we’ve said all along, it’s about saving money not lives. It’s got to have an impact if you’re travelling twice as far to Huddersfield rather than Halifax.
“We’ve got a brand new fit for purpose hospital in Calderdale which needs keeping open.”
Mrs Riordan said hospital chiefs should consider buying out the £600m PFI deal and claimed it was the only way for Halifax to get a new hospital in 1997 after years of neglect.
In August, Trust chief executive Owen Williams said the PFI deal could only be bought out in 2031 and they were unlikely to be able to afford it.
Huddersfield and Calderdale hospital plans: "No significant impact" on 999 journeys ambulance chiefs claim
Analysis by the Trust claims 96% of people in Calderdale and Huddersfield can reach either hospital in 30 minutes.
It says the impact of locating A&E at Calderdale would be more detrimental on travel times than having it the other way round.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service was asked to predict response times and concluded there would be “no significant impact” on 999 journeys.
The document says: “...it is clear to see that the clinical impact would be low with few journeys exceeding 30 minutes... even 45 minute journeys for serious trauma are not thought to be problematic as long as the patient gets prompt appropriate care on arrival.”
Trust chiefs admit there would be 15 to 20 minute increases for relatives travelling by car or people self-attending A&E.
In addition the analysis has revealed:
Three-out-of-four patients (75%) are within a 15 minute drive of Calderdale Royal Hospital or Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Almost one-in-four Calderdale residents (22%) are already taken to Huddersfield Royal for emergency care.
60% of Huddersfield residents already go to Calderdale Royal for planned care.
Approximately six patients per day have to be transferred between the two sites.
All ambulance journeys for residents in Calderdale and Huddersfield should be under 45 minutes.
The Trust says AA Route Planner gives a journey time from Todmorden to HRI of 25 minutes.
But a search by the Examiner using Google maps revealed the journey could be almost an hour (56 minutes).