‘BROKEN promises’ by NHS chiefs have led Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett to launch a campaign to save beds and improve services at Pontefract’s new £60m hospital.
The MP, and his Pontefract counterpart Yvette Cooper, claim bed shortages and budget cuts are forcing patients to travel to Dewsbury and Wakefield for treatment.
They believe that officials are failing to honour their pledges that nine out of ten patients will continue to receive treatment at the new site, and are demanding the Trust’s install extra beds to cope with demands.
Mr Trickett claims the Trust promised to keep the Pontefract General Infirmary’s former elective treatment centre (ETC) open to ensure there was enough capacity for the long-term future of the area.
But Mr Trickett believes that the building, which is standing empty, is line for demolition.
Mr Trickett said: “In recent months I have, in the bluntest terms possible, told officials that they should not push ahead with the demolition of Pontefract hospital buildings which can be utilised now for 50 extra beds.
“It is sometimes difficult for people who live in this area to get to Pontefract let alone Dewsbury. It is ridiculous that they are knocking a building down which has beds in it.
“I have throughout the whole process of the reconfiguration argued with the health care professionals that their plans did not have enough beds locally. It gives me no satisfaction to say ‘I told you so’ and I feel very angry that a great opportunity to provide fantastic health care facilities for people of this area has been hindered because of the short sightedness of certain health care professionals.”
Ms Cooper said: “The trust made a series of important promises in response to our campaigns for beds and services at Pontefract Hospitals, but they aren’t meeting those promises and that’s deeply unfair on local people.”
Leader of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council, Laurie Harrison is also backing the campaign.
Councillor Harrison said: “It is essential that we keep beds in Pontefract. When our local hospital was closed we were given assurances that Pontefract hospital would be up and running and have enough beds. It is completely wrong that they are breaking the promises they made to the people of this area.”
Julia Squire, chief executive at Trust, said: “All services planned to be in the new hospital at Pontefract are in place and they are all up and running. The provision at Pontefract has not been changed from that planned.
“However, we are currently experiencing higher levels of demand for our services than we anticipated which is unfortunately meaning that some patients are not having routine care as close to home as we would like. We are currently looking at how we can address these issues with patient safety and quality as our main priorities.
“We are currently reviewing our clinical services strategy for the next five years to ensure we are able to safely, effectively and sustainably deliver high quality services to our patients, across all our sites, for the future. This will involve looking at services at all our sites.”