Bed cuts at Huddersfield and Calderdale hospital review even bigger than first thought

Hospital chiefs slash another 100 beds from target

Hospital beds
Hospital beds

A further 100 beds have been slashed from Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals’ radical downsizing plan.

Hospital chiefs had said they wanted to cut a total of 100 beds from the two sites, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) and Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH), amid the controversial restructure proposal.

Now new documents have revealed an ambition to cut even deeper.

They indicate another 100 beds could go – reducing the overall bed level from 836 to 636 – almost a quarter of all beds.

The additional cuts come despite a recognition that about 1,400 more patients will need beds in Huddersfield because of the downgrading of Dewsbury Hospital’s A&E, agreed earlier this year.

The bed cull is part of the ‘Right Care, Right Time, Right Place’ (RCRTRP) review, which bids to move more care into the community and vastly reduce hospital admissions.

If approved the shake-up would see the downgrading of one of the two A&E departments, amid a move to have specialist hospitals.

And documents published this week show changes to facilitate the move will cost Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) more than £210m, of which more than half will have to be borrowed (£113m).

CHFT favours having an emergency hospital, dubbed ‘unplanned care’, at HRI and a planned one at CRH at Halifax.

At the start of the review in February hospital chiefs said they predicted the unplanned site would have 649 beds and the planned site just 87.

Now a new document shows those figures to be cut further to 551 at the unplanned site and 85 at the planned site.

Managers say despite a predicted 11% growth in in-patient demand and 7% surge in A&E use, the increases can be mitigated by new ways of working.

Hospital officials say both expected increases can be brought down to 3% by the implementation of the RCRTRP community care plans.

But they say they will not cut acute care beds until capacity is created elsewhere and “out of hospital” services are implemented.

The details, published in the Trust’s five year strategic plan submitted to hospital regulator Monitor, confirm a ‘workforce reduction’ once the plan has been fully implemented.

And they reveal the hundreds of millions of pounds spending required to convert the two sites by 2019, including £96m refurbishing wards and theatres and re-configuring emergency care.

The report also recommends shelving an idea to downgrade both hospitals’ A&E units.

It says the scenario of relying on a major emergency centre outside of Calderdale or Kirklees requires the national NHS strategy to be further down the line, adding: “Since publication of the Strategic Outline Case in February 2014, local people and stakeholders have clearly expressed their view of the importance of continuing to deliver local accident and emergency services...”

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said he was “not amused” at the latest cuts revelation and would be asking CHFT chief executive Owen Williams some tough questions at a meeting tomorrow

CHFT’s Director of Estates, Planning, Performance and Facilities, Lesley Hill, said: “This Trust, as all others, has to adapt to the rapidly changing way in which healthcare is delivered. With new medical and technological advances patients are requiring shorter time in hospitals and receiving more care as day cases or in the community settings.

“These figures represent a projection for the next five years and are subject to change both up and down as we develop the plans in more detail.”

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