HOSPITAL bosses are switching vital baby services from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to Halifax this week.
The neo-natal intensive care unit at the Infirmary will shut on Wednesday and poorly babies will be treated in the Calderdale Royal Hospital.
But the move - brought about by new regulations covering doctors' hours - will not be permanent.
Health chiefs assured Huddersfield families that the service will be restored later in the year.
New shorter hours for junior doctors also mean that out-of- hours paediatric admissions for sick children will be transferred from Huddersfield to Halifax.
But other services have been spared. Extra staff have been recruited to provide the necessary cover for other hospital services.
The new regulations, ordered by the European Union, introduces a maximum working week for junior doctors of 58 hours, with a cut to 48 by 2009.
A spokesman for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, said the EU directive would have an impact.
He added: "The trust has so far been successful in recruiting a number of additional doctors to ensure we comply with the European Working Time Directive, which comes into effect today.
"We anticipate that the service will be back to normal later in the year.
"The paediatric assessment service at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary will continue to be provided and the paediatric ward will remain open 24 hours a day.
"Any emergency referrals of children after 7pm who need admitting to hospital will be transferred to the Calderdale Royal Hospital during this time.
"We estimate that these planned temporary changes will affect about three patients a week, the trust spokesman added.
"The trust has also made additional appointments in general surgery, orthopaedics and anaesthetics.
"This is to seek to ensure compliance with the regulations, without adversely affecting emergency access and waiting times."