THOUSANDS of people across the Express area could face longer journeys and longer waits to get emergency hospital treatment under radical plans to change A&E services across the district.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has put forward a plan to make Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield the only full A&E department in the district.
If imposed, the plans would see people from across the Express area forced to travel to Pinderfields if they are critically ill.
Health bosses say the plan is the only viable option in a radical shake-up of NHS services.
Under the scheme, Dewsbury and Pontefract Hospitals would have units providing urgent care for minor injuries while Pinderfields Hospital would be the only consultant-led A&E.
The alternative plan would have seen Dewsbury keep its consultant led A&E .
Mike Potts, chief executive of NHS Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, said: “We have been very clear since we started talking to people last year about these changes that we must respond to current needs and current circumstances. We want local people to have safe, effective care – whether it’s in an emergency or it’s planned – and that means we will have to do things differently.”
Health bosses will decide whether to put it out to public consultation at a meeting today.
Mr Potts added: “If the PCT Cluster Board take a decision that these proposals can be taken forward to public consultation there will plenty of opportunities for people to find out exactly what is being proposed, and why, as well as to give their feedback.”
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said that the plans would break a previously made promise.
Mr Trickett said: “If this was to happen it would breach a commitment that has been made to everybody in Hemsworth because promises were made that there will be consultant-led A&E at Pontefract 24 hours a day.”
He said that the hospital authority promised an A&E on both sides of the district.
Mr Trickett added:“What happens if someone is critically ill and they have got to get to Pinderfields from the south east, it’s going to be much further for a lot of people and the traffic can be a nightmare.”
“For a lot of people it’s two or three bus journeys to get to Pinderfields so if you are a relative of a patient it will be a long journey to see them or some people simply won’t be able to see their loved ones.”
The re-organisation is expected to save millions of pounds at Mid Yorkshire, which faces a £26m deficit at the end of the financial year.
But Mr Trickett said that Pinderfields could not cope with an influx of more patients from across the district.
He added: “Everybody knows that Pinderfields is struggling to handle the work it has already got and if this was to happen I think it would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Today’s meeting is held at Ossett Town Hall from 10am. The public are welcome to attend.