A health watchdog has delayed a decision on whether to refer plans for a controversial shake-up of hospital services to the secretary of state for health.
Members of the Wakefield and Kirklees joint health scrutiny committee said they needed more time to consider plans to centralise parts of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.
At a meeting today, the committee was told that the £38m plan would secure the future of Mid Yorkshire, which has faced a string of financial problems in recent years.
Stephen Eames, the trust’s chief executive, said: “From the trust’s point of view our financial survival is dependant on these changes.”
Under the plans, NHS bosses want to centralise accident and emergency treatment at Pinderfields Hospital, reduce hospital stays and cut the number of beds at Mid Yorkshire.
Dewsbury’s A&E department would be downgraded to an urgent care centre treating minor ailments as critically-ill and injured patients are transferred to Wakefield.
Dewsbury would also lose its consultant-led maternity unit as some births are also transferred to Pinderfields under the scheme.
Health commissioners voted to press ahead with the scheme at a meeting in July.
But the scrutiny committee could still refer the plan to health secretary Jeremy Hunt if it is not convinced the changes are in the interest of patients.
A report to today’s meeting outlined a string of criticisms of the plan, including claims a public consultation was not adequate.
The report said: “The committee’s view is that the consultation outcome is inconclusive and far from ideal as a basis on which to make significant and major decisions on local health services.”
The committee has also raised fears over the affordability of the scheme and increased travel times for patients.
But members delayed their decision on referral to the secretary of state after receiving more information on how the plans would work in a new report by Mid Yorkshire.
Committee chairwoman Betty Rhodes said: “In the interest of openness and transparency and in light of the late information received last week, we feel it is only fair to adjourn the meeting until October 9.
“This will give the committee time to fully consider all available information.”
NHS bosses said the affordability of hospital services in the district depended on the reorganisation going ahead.
Phil Earnshaw, chairman of Wakefield NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which controls the district’s NHS budget, told the meeting: “Everybody is saying that no change is not an option. We believe these changes will help Mid Yorkshire have a positive future.”
Jo Webster, the CCG’s chief officer, said: “We will not be able to afford to live within our resources unless we do something different.”