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Hands Off HRI: NHS advisor says it's not always best to take patients to nearest hospital

Clinical senate chair Prof Chris Welsh says 'no longer safest response' to take 999 patients to nearest hospital

One of Yorkshire’s most senior NHS advisors has given his support for a plan which could close Huddersfield’s A&E.

Prof Chris Welsh, chair of The Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Senate, said centralising emergency care at Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH), Halifax, was ‘entirely appropriate’.

Prof Welsh told a Kirklees and Calderdale health scrutiny panel that the nearest hospital was no longer always the best place to send emergency cases.

Prof Welsh, who chairs the senate comprising local NHS bosses, said: “It is one of those things that is counterintuitive.

“It’s no longer the safest response to take you to the nearest hospital.

Twitter/@Chezzieburns Hands Off HRI rally
Hands Off HRI rally

“You need to be taken to the nearest hospital that can deliver the care you require.”

The senate reviews major health plans, including the Right Care Right Time Right Place plan which will radically change hospital services in Kirklees and Calderdale.

Under the proposal, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) will be demolished and replaced with a new hospital next to Acre Mills.

It will have an urgent care centre but, crucially, no A&E department which means life-threatening cases will be sent to Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, or further afield.

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But Prof Welsh, a former surgeon, said: “The senate fully supported the strategic direction in the proposals, and the centralisation of some services to deliver care to patients affected by serious conditions is entirely appropriate so that the right care is delivered in the right time, in the right place.

“There is strong clinical evidence that this delivers much better outcomes for patients, particularly those affected by stroke, by heart attack and by major trauma.”

The trust, which runs HRI and CRH, says there are 10 transfers of emergency patients between the two hospitals each day because emergency facilities and staff are spread across the two campuses.

Twitter/@kaazza84 Hands of HRI rally
Hands of HRI rally

Prof Welsh said that having the most serious cases treated on one site would reduce deaths and aid recovery.

He said: “When I am ill I want to be taken to the place that can treat me straight away with specialist services.

“I don’t want to be taken to place A, then to place B, only to go to place C.

Professor Chris Welsh, chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Senate

“That delay costs quality of care and there is really strong evidence that patients affected by stroke, by heart attack and by major trauma, who are taken directly to the location that can deliver their care, do far better in terms of their morbidity and mortality.”

Prof Welsh, however, expressed concern that there had been ‘an understandable lack of detail in the proposals’ and that those details were required so Right Care Right Time Right Place would deliver its promises.



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