A SPECIAL casualty unit for injured children at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary has still not opened - four months after completion.
Plans for a £585,000 extension to the accident and emergency department were submitted by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust in July, 2001.
The extension was designed to give children their own entrance and waiting area and was built with money won through a bid to the Government's Accident and Emergency Modernisation Fund.
It was completed by June this year and was due to be opened in July.
But patients visiting the hospital found that the extension had not been opened.
One said: "When we asked about this we were told the new children's waiting/treatment area - built at a large cost to the public purse - has never been used, remains closed and has been for a few months.
"By all accounts there is no date set for it to be used.
"This is a complete waste of our taxes, never mind children having to wait in an adult waiting room with drunks and people using foul language."
The patient added: "Before Huddersfield puts in for being a foundation trust perhaps they should care more for the little people and stop wasting money on white elephants.
"Has the money for staffing this new area been given to yet more managers?"
Children form a major section of patients in hospital accident and emergency departments.
A spokesman for the trust, which runs the Infirmary, could not say when the extension would open or why it had been delayed.
"The extension to the accident and emergency department is a multi-functional area, said the spokesman.
"It will allow the trust to have a dedicated paediatric entrance and waiting area, combined with rooms where emergency nurse practitioners can treat both adults and children with certain minor injuries.
"The building work is now complete, although soft furnishings and decor are awaiting completion.
"The extension will be used as part of our drive to further improve waiting and treatment times and to help meet the target of all patients to be seen, treated, admitted or discharged within four hours in the accident and emergency department.
"As part of this work we are looking to enhance the skills of existing accident and emergency nurses to cover paediatric care through a course entitled Care of the Child in Accident and Emergency at Leeds University."