Cancer patients to be sent to Pontefract Hospital as NHS looks to minimise COVID risk
Pontefract Hospital is to be developed into a temporary centre for cancer treatment.
Local patients who need diagnosis or surgery for the disease will be sent to the hospital for at least the next year.
Health bosses say the move will minimise the risk of infection to cancer patients and have acknowledged that some people needing critical treatment have stayed away from hospital because they fear exposure to COVID-19.
Pontefract's urgent treatment centre and GP out-of-hours service will remain open, though visitors using those services will be directed to a separate entrance from those attending cancer appointments.
Professor Sean Duffy, clinical lead with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, said anyone who had possible cancer symptoms should contact their GP as soon as possible.
He said: "We understand that people have concerns at this time, but we want to reassure people that the NHS is still here and able to help those who need it.
"Early diagnosis saves lives, and it’s vital that people seek advice and support if they are worried."
Cancer patients from the Wakefield district and North Kirklees are normally treated at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
However, those services were temporarily moved to Dewsbury and District Hospital after the coronavirus pandemic started, as all COVID-19 patients were treated in Wakefield.
Now, the arrangement with Pontefract Hospital will stay in place for at least 12 months, the NHS said.
Martin Barkley, chief executive of The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We are really fortunate that we have excellent modern facilities at Pontefract Hospital, including consulting rooms and theatres, where we can really tightly manage the risk of infection, which means that we can reinstate vital cancer services.
"We have already restarted some procedures and hope to reintroduce other services over the next few weeks as we are able to free up space at the hospital and get essential equipment in place.
"These arrangements are likely to be needed for at least the next year to ensure people are able to get essential treatment while services are still stretched due to COVID 19."
Local Democracy Reporting Service