Dewsbury District Hospital’s A&E will NOT be closing.
That was the strongly-worded message delivered in an open letter from the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to Paula Sherriff and Tracy Brabin, the MPs for Dewsbury and Batley and Spen respectively.
The MPs have been asked to reassure constituents the service is here to stay after fears were raised it would be scrapped with hospital downgrades.
The letter, signed by the trust’s chairman Jules Preston and Dr David Kelly, director of North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, states: “There is not, and never has been, a plan to close the A&E department at Dewsbury: IT IS NOT CLOSING.”
It comes two weeks after Ms Brabin raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions, as she claimed some constituents had experienced waits of up to 20 hours.
She said: “Would the Prime Minister now please face reality and act now to stop vital A&E services from disappearing?”
The trust’s letter confirms changes are to be made to reduce staffing levels, but ultimately the department will stay open 24 hours.
It adds: “There will be consultants in the department during the daytime and early evening, which are the hours when attendances are highest. At other times the team will be supported by an on-call consultant just as they are at night now.
“People will notice a change if they are more seriously ill and need very specialist care which is likely to mean they have to stay in hospital.
“This is because the plans set out changes to the way specialist and inpatient care is provided to ensure people are seen to more quickly by a clinician with the right skills.”
The letter also details that extremely ill patients who need immediate care or who call 999 will be transferred to Pinderfields.
Changes at the hospital are not due to take effect until May this year, at the earliest.
The letter summarises: “It is true Dewsbury Hospital is changing. These changes cannot easily be described in a single sentence but it is definitely not true to say Dewsbury A&E is closing. I hope you will help us to dispel any rumours suggesting it is.”
Mrs Sherriff said: “I have never said that Dewsbury A&E is closing. I am keenly conscious of the need to accurately inform the public about changes to services and so I stand by my message to local people; they need to know that vital services will be lost following the department reconfiguration.
“My concern is that we’re set to lose 30%-40% of capacity at Dewsbury A&E and the most seriously ill patients will be transferred to the already overburdened Pinderfields Hospital as services are centralised there.”