‘We’re in A&E limbo’

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HEMSWORTH MP Jon Trickett has blasted the local hospital trust saying patients are in ‘limbo land’ when it comes to being taken to A&E.

He has received numerous complaints from constituents who have been forced to travel miles to Doncaster, Barnsley, Wakefield and Dewsbury A&E departments – even during the daytime when Pontefract Hospital, the nearest of the five, is open.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust board voted to shut the facility at night for safety reasons last November because of a shortage of middle-grade doctors.

But Mr Trickett believes it is time the unit re-opened - and fears the ultimate plan is to close the hospital altogether.

He said: “This is totally unacceptable of the Trust and we are in limbo land.

“Pontefract has always been our hospital and that’s where people should be taken, no excuses. It is totally unfair for the people of Hemsworth and South Elmsall who are being forced to go to hospitals miles away when there is one on their doorstep.”

He said that unless there was a specific medical reason for being taken to another hospital, Pontefract Hospital should always be the first option for residents in the area.

He said: “That hospital was built so that local people could have a local hospital and unfortunately that is not the case. I don’t know what is going on.”

Mr Trickett said he was worried there might be a hidden agenda to privatise the hospital which is the reason why patients were being taken elsewhere.

He said: “I will write to the Trust to get copper-plated assurance that they will not close the hospital.”

A spokeswoman for the Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Doncaster Royal Infirmary, said that patients from South Elmsall and Hemsworth are roughly midway between the two hospitals and may be taken to either.

She said ambulance crews will know which hospital to take the patient to, depending on the patient’s condition, whether admission is likely and, if so, whether the hospital is full.

She said the hospital has had a number of planned (elective) patients referred to them because of capacity issues at Pontefract.

Paul Mudd, Locality Director for Emergency Operations (West Yorkshire) at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Typically patients will be taken to the nearest available emergency department and the decision about which hospital a patient is conveyed to lies with the ambulance staff caring for the patient and is very much based on their clinical need.

“Ambulance staff will consider both distance and time taken to travel there as part of this decision.”

Mid Yorkshire declined to comment to the Express on the issue.

Mr Trickett met with the new chief executive of the trust, Stephen Eames on Friday.

Mr Eames, who took over the role from Julia Squire at the beginning of March, said he could not say when the Friarwood Lane unit would be restored overnight – but hoped to have a plan in place by April 27.

Mr Eames, who has joined the trust in an interim role, said: “We are working on that at the moment, putting as much effort as we can into getting to a position where we can bring services back into play.”