A former surgeon has said a plan to centralise emergency care in Halifax would be risky and inefficient.
Retired eye surgeon Colin Hutchinson said patients undergoing planned surgery at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary would be in greater danger if full emergency care was moved to Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax.
Under Right Care Right Time Right Place, a new Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) will focus on planned care while an expanded Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) would deal with emergencies.
But Mr Hutchinson said separating planned and emergency care would render patients at risk if they developed an emergency complication while undergoing planned surgery.
Our guide to what's going on at HRI
Mr Hutchinson, who worked for the trust which runs HRI and CRH, raised his concerns at a joint health scrutiny panel meeting at Halifax Town Hall.
Mr Hutchinson said: “Given the age range of patients having joint replacements and many other kinds of surgery, some of them will develop general medical problems, such as heart attacks, loss of control of their diabetes or any one of many other scenarios.
“At the moment, it is fairly easy and quick to call on help from an experienced physician. That will no longer be the case.”
Under the plan HRI will have an urgent care centre with staff capable stabilising and resuscitating emergency cases.
But if an emergency developed, the patient would have to be ferried to a hospital with full emergency services.
Mr Hutchinson said: “If a patient has, for example, had a gall-bladder removed, and starts to bleed during the night, or at the weekend, and has to return to theatre, will there be the facilities to open and staff an operating theatre at the ‘planned care’ site, or will they have to be put in a blue light ambulance to take them to the urgent care site for treatment?
“The consultation documents do not tell us, but I suspect that there will not be two theatre teams on stand-by.”
Mr Hutchinson also said the loss of beds at HRI would leave the hospital less flexible.
Timelapse of the journey from St Geroge's Square to Calderdale Royal Hospital
He said: “Remove 119 beds to a separate site, and that ability to respond flexibly to peaks of demand is lost. The result will be many more days when the hospital will be closed to new admissions, which will have to be diverted to surrounding hospitals.”
Mr Hutchinson concluded: “Only a fool would build such risks and inefficiencies into a newly designed system, such as that which is being proposed to us today.
“If the powers that be have decided that we cannot be allowed to have functioning hospitals in each of our towns, at least let us have one that is equipped and staffed to deal safely with all the variable circumstances that arise in both planned and emergency settings.”