Jeremy Hunt told of patient safety ‘crisis’ at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust

Pinderfields Hospital Emergency entrance
Pinderfields Hospital Emergency entrance

The health secretary promised to look into patient safety concerns at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals trust during a grilling by MPs over NHS budget cuts.

Jeremy Hunt was told of staff shortages at the trust, which runs, Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, as he faced questions from the Health Select Committee.

Paula Sherriff MP.

Paula Sherriff MP.

Committee member and Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said Mid Yorkshire was among NHS organisations facing budget cuts of two per cent as they struggled to meet targets.

She said: “It’s failing all its targets and by the trust’s own admission it’s in crisis, with tempers fraying on the wards.

“Many of the wards are found to be at half the safe staffing level.”

Ms Sherriff said she recently saw the situation for herself on a patient safety walkabout.

She said: “It’s absolutely crystal clear that patient safety is being compromised.

“Is it fair, achievable or appropriate to therefore impose a two per cent efficiency saving on that hospital trust in these circumstances, and indeed others like it?”

Mr Hunt was responding to questions as part of an inquiry by the committee on the impact of health budget cuts.

Speaking at Portcullis House, Westminster, he told Ms Sherriff: “Certainly if there is particular information you have about particular concerns at your trust please share that with me and we’ll take that very seriously.”

Mr Hunt admitted the NHS was being hit by a “triple whammy” of increasing demand, higher expectations for patient safety and financial savings.

He said: “I don’t want to pretend that there aren’t real challenges on the frontline.

“If you take those three together it’s a cocktail that is more challenging for people in the NHS frontline than they have ever known in their lives.

“I think there are some heroic and wonderful efforts going on across the NHS now to keep patients safe.”

Mr Hunt said it was possible to make cost savings and improve patient care.

He claimed the government had increased the NHS budget and that the hospitals providing the safest care were the most efficient.

Monday’s meeting was held after figures showed a big increase in patients stuck in ambulances outside A&E.

Patients are supposed to be handed over to A&E within 15 minutes - but that target was breached hundreds of times in March at Pinderfields, leaving paramedics unable to respond to fresh 999 calls.

Ms Sherriff told Jeremy Hunt: “Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has the third busiest A&E in the entire country.

“Last month there were 937 patients that missed the 15-minute ambulance transfer. That isn’t good.”