Row over plan to cut hospital beds

THE number of beds at Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital could be slashed by health bosses faced with a multi-million pound budget deficit

A report by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust said a target for “significant bed reductions” is among options being considered in a reshuffle of services.

The trust would reduce the need for hospital beds by treating patients in other NHS facilities closer to home.

But Pontefract MP Yvette Cooper said: “At a time when waiting times are high and Pinderfields is struggling with long waits in A&E, it’s ludicrous to talk about cutting bed numbers.”

The report to last Thursday’s trust board meeting said plans to reorganise services had to be revised because of Mid Yorkshire’s financial challenge.

Mid Yorkshire is cutting £24m from its budget this year and could make up to 178 jobs redundant to save cash.

The trust is forecasting a £26m budget deficit at the end of the current financial year.

To help tackle this, the report said there would be “less reliance on commitments given in the past” and “radical changes” which could lead to Mid Yorkshire linking up with other health service organisations.

Centres of excellence to treat specific patient needs could be developed at Dewsbury and Pontefract Hospitals.

The measures could cut the length of time people needed to be treated in hospital the report said.

Ms Cooper said: “I’m deeply concerned that the trust are indicating that government cuts could force them to break promises that have been made to local people.

“£30m is being taken out of our NHS locally over the next few years, but evidence round here shows we need more beds, not fewer to cope with rising demand.”

Mid Yorkshire said the proposals were going out to consultation and a decision had not yet been made.

Interim chief executive Stephen Eames said: “We are looking at ways in which we can provide care closer to home and make sure that when patients do need hospital care that they can receive this at their nearest appropriate hospital.

“We are also working with our partners to reduce delays so that our patients don’t stay in hospital any longer than they need to. These steps will reduce reliance on hospital beds.”